How big data is redefining the CEO, CFO and COO roles

CIOs are in the best position as the originator and gatekeeper of data and as a fellow C-suite observer to comment on changing C-suite roles.
By Bill Siwicki
08:14 AM
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How big data is redefining the CEO, CFO and COO roles

Never before in the history of healthcare has the C-suite at hospitals and health systems had access to such a massive amount of data. And within all that data are insights and nuggets of wisdom that can bring untold benefits to healthcare provider organizations.

As a result of all of this, the roles of the CEO, CFO and COO have been tweaked. Reams of data are helping C-suite executives do their jobs better while improving care and trimming costs, achieving the Triple Aim of healthcare. And CIOs are in the best position as the originator and gatekeeper of data and as a fellow C-suite observer to comment on changing C-suite roles.

The flow of data

Today, there is a lot of data flowing from the CIO to the other members of the C-suite on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

“In our organization, likely similar to most others, executives are dependent on the dissemination of data for insight and decision making,” said Jonathan Goldberg, senior vice president and CIO at Arkansas Children’s in Little Rock. “Data-related things such as human resources, finance, supplies, clinical quality, operational metrics, or a myriad of others that they will digest.”

The sophistication the provider organization has around its ability to collect and report data has changed over the years, but the type of data has maintained relatively constant. A CEO, COO and CFO, for example, 20 years ago would look at volume numbers each day. What was the census at the hospital, and by unit? How is length of stay and nursing premium pay?

“The CFO is interested in days charges, cash collecting and how our accounting in receivable is doing,” Goldberg said. “The COO may want to look at quality metrics such as serious safety events, what emergency department volumes are looking like, or expected discharges.”

At the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, through its enterprise analytics team, the prominent provider organization produces a significant amount of data to assist leadership in effectively and efficiently operating the health system. That team takes complex data fields from multiple systems and delivers these in a simple and intuitive fashion.

“Daily, leadership receives all of our key performance indicators via early morning email,” said Edward Marx, CIO at the Cleveland Clinic. “This executive dashboard provides everything our leaders require to oversee operations on a daily basis. If the executive wants to dig deeper into a specific result, they simply click the icon and access the next layer of information.”

For instance, if an executive wants more information concerning admissions, they can click and find admissions data by hospital. The drill-down capabilities are extensive so executives have everything they need without having to ask for a report or create a sophisticated search.

How data affects the CEO

So how is all this data and reporting affecting the role of the CEO today? CIOs point to a variety of tweaks.

“Clearly, the modern CEO has instant access to all relevant operational data,” Marx said. “Rather than retrospective looks, operations can be monitored in near real time. This capability enables transparency whose byproduct is accountability. As a result, we have complete engagement and ownership of key processes. Performance escalates.”

For instance, the clinic conducts daily huddles to ensure the highest level of patient safety and quality as well as monitor patient and caregiver experience. Huddles also provide key insights into business operations, as well. This real-time data allows the leadership team to respond in real time to daily challenges. The team no longer has to wait for weekly or monthly reports.

While the data hasn’t changed, the delivery mechanism has, said Goldberg of Arkansas Children’s.

“Now our senior leadership have dashboards, 14 designed just for them, that allow immediate access to hundreds of key data points, both current and historical,” he explained. “These dashboards also allow them to drill into data further if they are interested in further insight into what is behind a number. They can access this data on their phones, as well, if on the go.”

"Now our senior leadership have dashboards, 14 designed just for them, that allow immediate access to hundreds of key data points, both current and historical."

Jonathan Goldberg, Arkansas Children’s

This increase in availability to data has put CEOs in much better position to be able to make decisions with more confidence, he added. The days of assembling data on green bar reports, or having scores of people merging data on spreadsheets and emailing them, are gone, he said.

“In recent years, conversations with the board have evolved to being much more data-oriented,” he said. “With the increased availability of data and the comfort level of leaders with it, more of it has made it into board meeting conversations.”

A data-driven business

The great CEO, or others in the C-suite, of today also is well aware that healthcare is now becoming a data-driven business, Goldberg said.

“They are challenging others to look at information in different ways,” he said. “They are paying attention to, and hopefully interested in, how machine learning, artificial intelligence and robot process automation is going to transform their business. The best leaders are understanding that while taking care of patients always will require a human touch, data is a great partner.”

The reams of data flowing through the healthcare system also is affecting the role of the COO. Like the CEO, the COO has unfettered access to every kind of data imaginable about his or her hospital or health system.

“Similar to our CEO, the COO has exposure to the same dashboards and data mining capabilities,” said Marx of the Cleveland Clinic. “The COO is now a real-time, data-driven, operational expert. The COO is able to redirect resources in real time to adjust to the day’s events.”

For example, the clinic also provides predictive data so the COO can proactively make decisions. If it is noted that volumes will exceed capacity at one of the hospitals, the clinic mobilizes to prepare for transfers at another facility.

“I know my leadership team would all agree that it is hard to imagine we ever operated in the traditional fashion, relying on weekly or monthly reports before we could make adjustments,” Marx said. “Transparency is key to transformation.”

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