Five foolproof questions to ask when hiring a healthcare BI 'expert'

By Laura Madsen
01:23 PM

These days you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a healthcare business intelligence expert. The advent of the Affordable Care Act, electronic health record keeping and the increasing need for reliable data analytics in all corners of the healthcare industry, has given birth to legions of so called business intelligence experts and the sharply rising need among clinics and organizations to hire someone fast.

So how do you separate self-proclaimed experts from real expertise in healthcare business intelligence? Ask these five foolproof questions of your BI partner (and yourself) and they get any organization on the right tracks quickly.

Are They Part of the Gold Rush?

The demand for data analytics across the healthcare industry has grown so rapidly that the last few years has seen something of an “expert gold rush” as consultants have flooded the market. But much like the panhandling days of old, you can’t just go where the crowd is because you just won’t find gold that way. Put aside the urgency your clinic or organization may feel to bring in BI help as quickly as humanly possible, and dig deep. BI is a young discipline but your chosen expert needs to have at least five years of solid track record and case studies of proven programs to show you.

Are They Consultant or Commander?

Does your chosen Healthcare BI provider know how to implement and manage a BI program kickoff and installation, or do they prefer to offer strategic advice? Conceiving, launching and nurturing a business intelligence program that fits your big picture strategy but integrates into every facet of your organization is a time-consuming, incredibly challenging but ultimately rewarding endeavor. Do they have the experience to offer only strategic whiteboard advice or can they roll up their sleeves, integrate with your IT department and really steer a course through the months of BI program implementation?

Are They One Team Minded?

Before you do anything else, ensure that your chosen provider and future Healthcare BI partner is a team player, someone who understands organizational needs, motives and pressures from the C-suite floor to the backrooms of the IT department. A good BI partner can straddle these different mindsets and create a single vision from manager to IT department for the implementation of an organization wide BI program and process. No BI program can exist without this.

Are They Data Architects?

In other words, does your Healthcare BI partner have the skill set and bandwidth to collate, organize and make accessible the massive amounts of data your organization generates on a daily basis? Do they have airtight data quality standards in place and protocols for collecting and working with data for best in class results? Ultimately, the success of your business intelligence implementation and its role in operational efficiency comes down to data quality, collection and analysis. Everything else builds from there.  Before hiring any Healthcare BI expert, you should always ask do they understand how your organization functions and in doing so, can they design and build an architecture exactly tailored to those functional needs.

Do They Have a Strong Visualization Offering?

A number of Healthcare BI experts do offer backend data analytics capabilities but given the stresses, time constraints and daily priorities of employees within the typical healthcare environment, daily success comes down to user interface with that data. A stellar visualization strategy that caters to how all employee at different levels will need to access, understand and use the data is critical. A C-suite executive may only need headline facts and figures where a mid level or departmental head is going to need a broader cross section of data. But regardless of employee user audience, your Healthcare BI partner needs to be able to design for the user, to create a custom interface experience that caters to the speed, location and duration with which employees need to interact with the data.

Only by creating an interface geared specifically to real people doing real jobs and overlaying it on robust, high quality data, can your Healthcare BI program and the partner providing it ever truly paint the full picture for your organization.

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