In healthcare, medical group and health system administrators are usually so busy keeping up with the pressing issues of each day that they simply don’t have time to develop a holistic, integrated view of their organizations.
Accessing data from multiple systems remains a challenge for healthcare
Creating an integrated cross-organizational view is no easy feat. Billing, payroll, scheduling, third-party claims, quality, and general ledger data, to name a few data sources, frequently come from different systems that are not always easy to connect. It proves even more problematic for larger health systems that use multiple billing systems, for example, across their various regions and locations. We have seen creative solutions to this disparate data source problem, but unfortunately, they frequently come down to manual processes that involve a dizzying number of spreadsheets and potential for numerous mistakes.
The good news is, there is a better way to actionable data. In our projects with medical groups and health systems across the country, we at Ancore Health work to unify our clients’ disconnected data into a single source of truth that everyone, from the CEO to a business analyst, can use to quickly answer operational questions. When building an integrated organizational view that empowers our clients with information, we operate under five core principles.
1. Measure twice, cut once
Planning is a key part of our process. Before any code is written, we need to have a thorough understanding of how data is currently being stored. We use sample data to create a data map that illustrates how we will transform the data from its current format into the single source of truth. By digesting sample data, we ensure that we truly understand the current state and clearly define the steps we need to follow on our way to creating a single source of truth.
2. Simplify, simplify, simplify
Our goal is not just to create the most efficient process possible; our goal is to create an efficient process that our client can easily maintain. Since we develop the processes to clean and analyze data, we can easily navigate any quirks or complexities. However, it is important for us to continually simplify the process and remove anything that is unnecessary or overly complex, so that our clients can be empowered with actionable data that are easy to understand. Occasionally, this means that we make small sacrifices in terms of efficiency to significantly simplify the process.
3. There is no cookie-cutter answer
While we bring the technical expertise and healthcare industry experience necessary to build the architecture to better track our clients’ organizational health, we do not operate in a vacuum. The nuances of each client matter. So, we tailor our process according to these differences rather than creating a cookie-cutter answer.
We need to understand and apply the day-to-day experience of our clients to create a solution that is meaningful to them. This is why we collaborate with our clients throughout the engagement to not only keep them in the loop at each step, but to apply their insights as our work progresses.
4. Documentation matters
We chose to work in data analytics because we enjoy solving problems—not because we love to document each step (and misstep) we take along the way. However, we know that without clear documentation our clients cannot replicate a process or troubleshoot an issue with the data. When we work with a new client, it can at times seem like we are stating the obvious in our documentation. However, we must be thorough because we recognize our clients don’t have the muscle memory we developed while creating the new processes. In the end, anyone with a cursory understanding of SQL and business intelligence tools should be able to use our documentation to maintain these new processes.
5. Access to actionable data is worth the work
Creating a single source of truth is not easy: data extracts have unexpected changes, code has issues that are difficult to debug, and some timeline expectations are tight. At times, the process feels monumental as we develop infrastructure that is necessary but not easy to see. However, when we finally see a client integrate the processes and analyses we have developed into their workflow, we get excited and know that we have created something both reproducible and innovative, while still tailored to that specific client’s environment.
For help building your single source of truth, contact us at: