The role of business intelligence vs. analytics at Geisinger

Geisinger Health System, which has become known for initiatives using big data in clinical care, still considers business intelligence (BI) tools "the workhorses of what we do," Chief Data Officer Nicholas Marko, M.D., tells Healthcare IT News.

He distinguishes between business intelligence and data analytics, but says BI tools, which do reporting and dashboarding, can handle 80 percent of the organization's issues.

Its analytics initiatives, meanwhile, go "two or three steps beyond dashboarding--which is just presenting and summarizing data--to a place where we're actually using that data to drive computations that we use to then inform more complex decisions: predictive analytics, decision modeling," he says.

The organization considers how data is to be used to determine whether to employ a centralized versus federated data model.

It also uses a centralized model for data management, such as warehousing and big data operations, so there is one copy of the data rather than many. However, it uses a federated model for data analysis that helps answer questions for a care provider or business leader.

Geisinger, Marko says, seeks a balance between the two with data governance. Some things need to be centralized for consistency, such as making sure everyone uses the same definition for "readmission" or "length of stay," and policies on who can access data and how it's used.

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