Health care business intelligence consists of the data related to the enterprise activities of a health care provider. This data includes those business performance metrics that are typical for other business operations. Marketing metrics, financial performance, and production efficiencies of a health care enterprise may be analyzed. This is done in order to improve enterprise operations. What distinguishes health care business intelligence is the effort to understand the ways in which clinical quality and profitability are related.
Gathering health care business data typically involves deciding what data is needed; how the data will be gathered, stored, and, accessed; and, what the desired outcome should ideally be in using the data. Taking the intelligence and insights gained from the data, managers may seek to apply it to the low-hanging fruit first. This includes those operational aspects that are perceived to be the most wasteful and the easiest to change.
Not only does this targeted approach gain a reasonably quick, gratifying return on investment (ROI), it frequently allows time for a lean mindset to permeate daily health care operations. Additionally, intelligence gathered from patient satisfaction surveys might be used in an effort to target those areas most likely to impact client opinion negatively. For example, a relatively small change in staff behavior, like an intentional friendly greeting offered to patients, may have a powerful impact on repeat business for elective surgery.
One of the common motivations for gathering and quantifying health care business intelligence is to find ways in which to control costs, without sacrificing quality in patient care. Cultural and legal sanctions restrain health care providers from other common cost-reduction strategies, such as a broad reduction in staffing. Substituting expensive life-support machinery with machinery that is much less effective, albeit cheaper, would likely be considered completely unacceptable by patients and staff. Cost containment measures may include using data gathered to make strategic decisions in reducing waste without measurably impacting essential patient care, however.
For example, the food service operations within a hospital may include an employee's cafeteria as well as food served to patients that must meet special dietary requirements. By using health care business intelligence to measure the leanness of the food production in a hospital, food costs may be reduced significantly. Some hospitals have instituted waste control measures such as measuring discarded food, and then reducing the amount of food purchased based on those calculations. In this way certain areas can be targeted for reduced spending without negatively impacting patient care.
Reformatting the layout of equipment and the stationing of personnel may reduce unnecessary steps in a health care operation. In a large health-care organization, reducing collective steps taken in performance of duties may lead to better quality health care without increasing staffing expense. Customer satisfaction is improved, while costs are reduced as a result of health care business intelligence.