Real-time analytics projected to help Covenant Health save nearly $2 million

A move to real-time analytics has Covenant Health, a not-for-profit Catholic health system with three hospitals in Maine and New Hampshire, on track to save a projected $1.8 million in 2015.

Covenant is in a unique position as a self-insured system--being the provider, the employer, and the insurer--Richard Boehler, a doctor and CEO of St. Joseph Hospital, one of Covenant's facilities, tells HealthITAnalytics. While wellness programs and care coordination have been central to its efforts to improve care and reduce its costs, it's found that having the latest information is key to its savings.

"[W]hen you do care coordination and population health management and more data-driven risk stratification, you are able to identify those individuals who are at risk of having a catastrophic problem," Boehler says. "Or you're able to identify individuals who are utilizing emergency services frequently, or who aren't filling their prescriptions. They're not getting their blood tests for diabetes checked on a regular basis."

Covenant's efforts include building a data warehouse as a repository, "but we also had to find a way to get it back in a timely fashion to influence meaningful change," Boehler adds.

One of the challenges has been reassuring employees that their information is being used appropriately. To that end, Covenant has created a firewall that allows searching global information to look for patterns, but not drilling down to the level of the individual patient. Only the care coordinators and primary care physicians have that level of access.

Providing care coordinators with close to real-time access to admission, discharge, and transfer data has also helped patients to receive appropriate services after a hospitalization or a visit to the emergency department, he says.

Cleveland Clinic, which has built a structured data repository that sits behind the electronic medical record system, is focusing on making data useful rather than just interesting.

Secondary use of health information exchange data could be even more valuable than its primary use of giving providers a complete picture of a patient's care history, according to research involving a data warehouse built in parallel to the New York Healthix HIE. A paper at eGEMS (Generating Evidence & Methods to Improve Patient Outcomes) describes issues that arose in harnessing that trove of data.

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