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In this Business Profile, Robert Williams, MD, director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Arielle Freiberger, product strategist, ConvergeHEALTH by Deloitte, explain how sophisticated retrospective, real-time, and predictive data analytics can inform decision making to reduce costs and improve care. 

Robert Williams Deloitte Consulting LLPTell us a little about your organization.

Robert Williams, MD: Deloitte Consulting LLP serves providers, health plans, government, and life sciences companies. In fact, we touch many industry stakeholders through our professional healthcare advisory services, assisting with developing strategy around such areas as finance, technology, cost management, population health, and advanced analytics. With ConvergeHEALTH, we comprise a team that addresses the industry’s complex challenges.

Arielle Freiberger ConvergeHEALTH by Deloitte

Arielle Freiberger: ConvergeHEALTH is focused on answering the “hard questions” in health care: What works, for whom, in what context, and at what cost? We use data and applied analytics tools to support organizations as they transition from volume- to value-based care, so they can make better management and operational decisions to drive costs lower while improving the quality of care delivery and clinical outcomes.

What trends are you seeing in health care today that are really challenging businesses?

Williams: CFOs we speak with today are typically concerned about operating efficiently and effectively, as well as building the capabilities to manage utilization by populations—and not just within the hospital, but also in terms of the full care spectrum and in relation to controlling overall costs of care. From a business point of view, they are focused on how to grow their revenues and differentiate their services so their organizations can effectively serve their communities now and in the years to come. They are looking for ways to be successful as they try to straddle the old world of volume-based care while learning to manage for value-based payment.

Value-based care is outcomes-focused, so healthcare executives need to become adept at managing population health with the intended financial, clinical, and patient experience outcomes. This transition isn’t easy and every market is different. Some organizations may be successful in managing the health of population segments in six months, while others may take three years or more.

How do your services and solutions address these kinds of challenges?

Williams: Much of what ConvergeHEALTH brings to the table is its currency with research and operations data coming out of a network of leading health systems that share data, contribute leading practices, share approaches to advanced analytics, and share content. In one example, providers can benefit from the research outcomes that have come from working with academic medical centers to improve their disease management and population health management competencies. By leveraging data analytics and these research insights, other providers can learn how to better reduce unwanted variation, improve care coordination, leverage evidence- based guidelines, and support new payment models. In the past, we’ve been data rich, but information poor. ConvergeHEALTH brings the opportunity to become data rich and information rich.

Also key is access to data that provide a more complete view of overall costs of care than previously possible. We’re able to move beyond just the clinical data that exist in the electronic medical record and the financial data that exist in the revenue cycle system to help providers also access claims data from the health plans, so we can bring it all together for a 360-degree view. Having all of the information integrated this way is providing new insights into ways process change can impact cost and quality metrics, and ultimately how changes in care practices can support better patient outcomes.

Freiberger: ConvergeHEALTH by Deloitte also helps providers understand how to use data to develop effective strategy. ConvergeHEALTH’s Insight solution aggregates many different data sources that we pull for clients (we are vendor-agnostic) to deliver real-time data analytics and patient stratification to guide an efficient care coordination process. For example, if your goal is to develop care protocols that address needs of particular patient populations, you may first need to segment patients by risk from a population health standpoint. You might then include this information as part of the workflows used by those who will provide services to these patients. In this way, the organization begins to leverage limited resources efficiently and focus efforts where improvement in patient outcomes may be greatest. 

By applying predictive analytics to clinical-risk and financial-risk models, healthcare organizations can provide clinical interventions where they will be most effective, prior to patients needing care in more intensive and costly settings. 

Williams: It’s really about helping everyone in the organization—whether it’s a physician, nurse, or administrator—make better decisions. When they have aggregated information at hand, they can make real-time decisions that are safer, more effective, and better for the patient experience. By bringing information together in ways that answer your organization’s most pressing questions, you can support actionable, real-time decision making to advance care in a new and meaningful way.

What is important to evaluate when talking with potential suppliers to meet data analytics needs?

Williams: First, engage a company that understands health care very well and that can tailor its technical solutions to deliver the actionable insights you need in your organization. These two capabilities are essential, because the metrics that matter to you are likely to be different from those used by a different organization or marketplace. 

Also, look at the overall team’s composition and expertise. It takes a village to do this work because actuaries, clinicians, operations, and technology folks must all work together to produce good analytics. If you isolate these components, you get far less effective solutions. You need a team that is fluent in the “languages” all of these specialists speak.

Any other tips for maximizing the use of analytics in an organization?

Williams: It’s important to ask the right questions to yield actionable information. For example, common questions include: “How actionable are these analytics?” “What are the core behaviors we need to change based on key biometrics?” “How will I use these data to improve care and allocate resources differently to yield better results?” Also, the future of health care is all about outcomes, so measure those instead of tasks.

Freiberger: Focusing on training also is important. End users can benefit from training by someone in the organization who really understands the processes that already exist in the organization or the processes that need to be adopted. Using a “train the trainer” approach can be a great way to embed the solution in the workflow so everyone uses it. 

Also, tools should be well-aligned to normal workflow, reflecting, for example, whether the user is an emergency department manager, a contract manager for an accountable care organization, or a care manager who is trying to help a patient navigate the system for the most efficient and cost-effective care.

Where can readers learn more about Deloitte and ConvergeHEALTH by Deloitte?

Freiberger: Learn more about Deloitte’s Life Sciences & Health Care practice, and learn more about ConvergeHEALTH by Deloitte.

ConvergeHEALTH by DeloitteHFMA is the nation's leading membership organization for more than 40,000 healthcare financial management professionals. Business Profiles are funded through advertising with leading solution providers. Learn more.

Content for this Business Profile is supplied by Deloitte. This published piece is provided for advertisement purposes. HFMA does not endorse the published material or warrant or guarantee its accuracy. The statements and opinions of those profiled are those of the individual and not those of HFMA. References to commercial manufacturers, vendors, products, or services that appear do not constitute endorsement by HFMA.

 

Publication Date: Sunday, February 01, 2015