How analytics roadmaps can break organizations from vicious data cycles

LifeBridge Health CIO says back-and-forth about data dashboards, tools and structure needed to chart a solid plan for value-based care.
By Bill Siwicki
12:36 PM
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Tressa Springmann

Tressa Springmann, senior vice president and CIO, information services at LifeBridge Health.

Value-based care requires healthcare executives to deploy robust analytics. But before that can happen, healthcare organizations need the supporting tools, processes, technology, people and organizational structure in place. It’s easier said than done.

For LifeBridge Health, which well into its analytics journey, it all started with developing a scalable and effective analytics roadmap and a data governance model.

“I had come from another organization that had started the process of putting together a roadmap for data analytics and had recognized the requirement that the really hard work of data governance was just absolutely an essential partner with picking a tool,” said Tressa Springmann, senior vice president and CIO, information services. “The senior team kept saying we need a scorecard, a dashboard, we need to know how we’re doing. Unfortunately, that sounds really easy, but what is really difficult is understanding from them what is the data they want that they can act on, and then how to walk backward through our data sources to make sure we have clean data that is able to inform whatever that scorecard is.”

[Also: Hospital cuts costly falls by 39% due to predictive analytics]

Unfortunately, that opened up a can of worms.

“For a lot of organizations, including the one I came from, it becomes a vicious cycle conversation,” Springmann said. “I want A, help me understand B, I want C, and the folks who are using this data don’t have the appetite to understand the detailed, foundational work that needs to be done in order to have reliable, actionable data. That is just the reality of it.”


 Learn more at the Big Data & Healthcare Analytics Forum in San Francisco, May 15-16, 2017. Register here.​


But Springmann worked through the problems at her previous employer and got to a good place when it came to analytics, a roadmap and data governance.

“I came here to LifeBridge and I was just coming off this high where my organization had finally gotten it,” she said. “We had the organization talking about the right details around data governance. We also had data stewardship discussions where if you want that data to be clear, the registrar had to have a commitment all the way through the life of that information. I was coming from an organization that took me a number of years and they finally got it and were starting to walk as opposed to crawl.”

However, Springmann learned an unexpected lesson about data and analytics when she got to LifeBridge.

“I naively assumed I could bring everything I learned and plug it in and be right where we were on the maturity curve,” she remembered. “The reality was I had landed myself in a threefold more complex organization and there was no way I could very easily move this organization through all those ‘A ha’ moments of change any faster than this organization would take to do so. That is where we began.”

There were fits and starts, Springmann said, dialogue around scorecards and dashboards.

“Then you get into the messiness of things like how do you define a readmission, as there were multiple definitions, and the folks who want that readmission data do not have the time or the appetite for defining a readmission,” she said. “So we made a couple of runs at it so whether it was giving a new dashboard or having another governance conversation, we finally got to a place where my peers and our stakeholders at LifeBridge landed at the same moment of epiphany.”

LifeBridge had used the consulting services of The Chartis Group, deciding it needed robust data but realizing in order to have data for decision making it was much more than buying the right tool and plugging it in.

“The Chartis Group assisted with organizational commitment and foundational work that needs to happen so that once you are really standing up a system for decision making purposes, for actual use-cases, decision making can have trust,” Springmann said. “Prior to that, everyone would get into meetings and debate the data, you spend half the meeting saying why we can’t use the data. It is about organizational engagement, it is about awareness and connecting the dots and having folks come to a place that if they want actionable, valuable data they can trust, they have to invest in this data governance structure, data harmonization effort, data stewardship assignments, frankly all the critical detail work that has to happen in order to stand up something you can make decisions with.”

Springmann will deliver an address on analytics and value-based care at the HIMSS and Healthcare IT News Big Data & Healthcare Analytics Forum on May 15 and 16 in San Francisco during a session entitled “A Playbook for Action: Using Analytics to Drive Value-Based Care.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT


 Read more of our preview coverage of the  Big Data & Healthcare Analytics Forum in San Francisco, May 15-16, 2017.
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