Business intelligence data modeling for healthcare falls in three categories

Published on 27/05/2012

Companies and organizations utilize data modeling in their business intelligence platforms to improve the accuracy, usability and turnaround time for reports. The process has long been through difficult for healthcare organizations, but a recent BeyeNETWORK report states the process is both possible and beneficial for those within the sector.

According to the news provider, data modeling efforts for healthcare business intelligence generally fall within one of three categories - in-house with existing resources, a data model is purchased or organizations hire consultants to implement a process.

Data modeling for healthcare business intelligence is difficult, according to the report, because the nature of data within the industry is extremely volatile. Author Laura Madsen cites the recent push for electronic health records as an example. The shift is so dramatic that healthcare data itself is changing with the trend.

"Data modeling horror stories and different pieces of advice heard over the years make it seem that data modeling for healthcare is impossible to do well," Madsen wrote. "Within the last year I have heard two conflicting approaches to modeling healthcare data - from very well-respected data modelers."

Madsen said utilizing in-house resources is probably the best method for healthcare organizations to follow. As she wrote, "the only people that really understand your business are the people that work for you." As such, internal employees are better served to know exactly what the organization needs to get out of business intelligence reporting and what data must look like to accomplish that.

Buying a data model is a hopeful method that some companies may employ, but it is also one that carries numerous challenges. Companies take this route because they may not feel their internal resources are capable of meeting their business intelligence needs, and many vendors formulate data models based on input from several healthcare organizations. Still, Madsen warns, every company and every health plan is different and organizations want to be sure their data model fits their company.

Finally, some companies have turned to consultants. This method is rarer than one may think, Madsen said, because of the difficulty in convincing senior managers to spend money on a data model and someone to set it up.

Experts say the advent of electronic health records has opened the door for more physicians and organizations to utilize business intelligence. By analyzing the electronic data, healthcare providers can spot trends in illnesses and treatments which can lead to vastly improved patient care.