Dignity Health goes big for data

Dignity Health Executive Vice President and CIO Deanna WiseDignity Health Executive Vice President and CIO Deanna Wise

Intent is to reduce readmissions, tailor patient care

Dignity Health, one of the largest health systems in the country, with a 20-state network, will build a cloud-based data analytics platform.

The health system tapped Cary, N.C.-based SAS to lead the big data and predictive analytics project.

The platform will be powered by a library of clinical, social and behavioral analytics, according to Dignity Health executives.

The initiative is aimed at helping doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers better understand each patient and tailor care to improve health while reducing costs.

In the short term, Dignity Health and SAS will use the big data analytics platform to reduce readmission rates, determine best practices for addressing congestive heart failure and sepsis, manage pharmacy costs and outcomes and create tools to improve each patient's experience.

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"In order to deliver the right care at the right place, cost and time for every patient, we must connect and share data across all our hospitals, health centers and provider network," said Dignity Health CIO Deanna Wise, in announcing the move. "The SAS cloud-based analytics platform will help us better analyze data to optimize and customize our treatment for each patient and improve the care we deliver."

Big data and analytic insights collected from the platform will help improve patient care and health outcomes at Dignity Health in the following areas:

  • Care planning for individuals and populations, including predictive modeling and disease management.
  • Insights to strengthen reimbursement models, with a focus on paying for outcomes.
  • Measurement and transparency of performance data to drive best practices on outcomes and value.

Analytics will enable Dignity Health to assign a probability to future events such as the risk of readmission, the likelihood of sepsis or kidney failure, and then apply best practices to intervene early and reduce the possibility of avoidable future complications and costs, Wise explained.

The platform powered by SAS will affect how physicians at Dignity Health's 39-hospital system treat patients and how Dignity Health coordinates care among the more than 9,000 affiliated providers. The improvements are expected to reduce cost of care.

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"Dignity Health and SAS share a common vision for the critical role that analytics will play in the future of health care delivery," said Graham Hughes, MD, SAS chief medical officer, said in a news release. "We will bring our best experts and leverage the unmatched power of SAS' complete suite of analytics software to help Dignity Health establish a new benchmark for care delivery innovation, with a focus on improving patient health outcomes and controlling costs."

As SAS executives see it, the new platform will make possible "just in time" sophisticated insights incorporated into point-of-care workflows.