St. Luke's tackles value-based care with data warehouse and specialized analytics

The Pennsylvania health system has developed more than 60 apps that conduct unique clinical, operational and financial analytics tasks, drilling into a single data warehouse.
By Bill Siwicki
04:05 PM
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St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Credit: Google Maps

St. Luke's University Health Network uses data as a strategic part of its operations across all of its sites and with its approach to self-service business intelligence and analytics.

Until recently, the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based St. Luke's, a nine-hospital system with more than 300 outpatient sites, had varied data sources that made it difficult to obtain a single view of key information needed to support clinical, operational and financial analysis.

But this past year, the health system contracted with Information Builders, an analytics and master patient index vendor, to develop more than 60 applications – dubbed InfoApps – that help its stakeholders monitor financial, clinical and operational activities through self-service and guided analytics built on integrated and mastered data domains.

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"The InfoApps were developed early in our data warehouse implementation to provide easy, self-service access to the most commonly required data for more than 1,000 users across the network," said Amanda Mazza, director of analytics and business intelligence at St. Luke's University Health Network.

"These flexible, drillable dashboards and reports bring the power of the underlying Omni-HealthData, which integrates data from more than 40 sources, right to users' desktops," she said.

For more advanced users, St. Luke's analytics team provides more direct access to the data warehouse via the analytics vendor's InfoAssist, a report-writing tool used by St. Luke's community analysts, a group of several dozen trained analysts across the network who gather every quarter to share learnings and best practices.

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The healthcare analytics arena is a big one with many tech companies, including Ayasdi, Digital Reasoning Systems, Enlitic, Health Fidelity, IBM Watson, Flatiron Health, Linguamatics, Lumiata, Roam Analytics, SAS, Tellius and ThoughtSpot.

"We worked with Information Builders to create a unique business-driven development plan for the warehouse," Mazza said. "Having surveyed more than 40 executives, many of whom now sit on our steering committee, we integrated data sources and built business intelligence tools in parallel, mastering data as we progressed. This approach delivered remarkably quick time to value for a data warehouse implementation; the first InfoApps were delivered within four months of kickoff."

Ongoing business-driven development planning under the guidance of the steering committee ensures that this data foundation is developed in lockstep with the organization's overall business priorities, she added.

Care Insights is one example of a St. Luke's InfoApp. It supports the success the health system has so far seen under value-based care models, presenting quality and utilization information on a variety of populations for the health system's clinically integrated network.

The tool provides users the ability to identify populations and track patient cohorts; benchmark quality, utilization and cost performance; risk-stratify episodes of care; and apply predictive models to proactively identify opportunities.

"By providing easy access to identify opportunities for improvement and drill to the detail, we have seen improvements in both quality and utilization metrics and look forward to more as we continue to build out this tool," Mazza said. "This robust, network-wide data foundation is key for the network to remain agile in a changing healthcare environment."

The warehouse and InfoApps are used to support everything from operations and finance to clinical care and research, driving performance improvement initiatives in quality, safety, satisfaction and efficiency across the health system, she added.

"We can conduct ad hoc and exploratory analysis much more efficiently with a broad, pre-integrated base of data to work with," she explained. "Having a clean, integrated, single source of truth at the ready enables us to support our strategic goals in a changing world, without needing to purchase and support a multitude of niche products and tools."

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com