It's a bumpy road for one Mississippi hospital's analytics efforts

Hospitals that want to use analytics to provide better care at lower cost are finding that doing so doesn't necessarily take a straight path.

Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, Miss., is on that road, but found a few turnouts along the way, according to a Wall Street Journal blog post. It's consolidating a collection of EHR systems accrued over the years through acquisitions into a single system to generate a complete view of clinical, administrative and billing information. That system is due to roll out March 15.

"It's hard to connect the dots between my patient that goes to a clinic, the emergency department, or the in-patient stay," CIO Gene Thomas is quoted as saying of the disparate systems. 

Analytics software will be used with the new system, but first the hospital is focused on data integrity--eliminating duplicate and erroneous data from the various systems. Once that's done, it plans to use the new technology to analyze clinical data as well as administrative and financial information stored in the EHR system.

One area of focus will be on identifying "frequent fliers" to the emergency department to develop care plans for them. That might involve scheduling them to see physicians every six to eight weeks, reducing visits to the emergency room.

In addition to the hospital, it manages 53 clinics and 250,000 ambulatory visits annually.

A regional health information exchange serving 10 hospitals in the New York City area found the HIE could more accurately identify patients who visit hospital emergency departments frequently than a single site's records.

"An improved ability to identify frequent ED users allows better targeting of case management and other services that can improve frequent ED users' health and reduce their use of costly emergency medical services," the researchers wrote at Health Affairs.

Healthcare executives cited budget woes and lack of skills in-house as barriers to their analytics efforts, according to a survey from healthcare informatics consulting firm CIC Advisory. Most of the respondents used multiple tools to reach their goals and pointed to the difficulty of integrating disparate systems as a major reason for not having a single enterprise solution for business intelligence and analytics.

To learn more:
- find the blog post

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