Healthcare remains one of the marketplaces where data warehouses are simultaneously more complex and more rewarding to implement and leverage than in other industries.
Faced with the challenge of bringing together external and internal functions, stakeholders, data sources and regulators, the first step toward effective data warehouse design and performance is data harmonization. Just like world-class symphony orchestra musicians may warm up and play separately but can’t perform in concert until they’ve tuned up together on stage, even the best healthcare organizations with the best-run individual internal functions require a centralized harmonization strategy and function before a data warehouse is able to perform to full effect.
Harmonized and effective data warehouses can provide immense amounts of value to healthcare organizations and their stakeholders. Beyond the obvious opportunities such as supporting continuous quality of care improvement efforts, identifying utilization efficiencies and improving financial performance, data warehouses can do much more. For instance, some healthcare providers use their data warehouses to abstract patient charts for Accountable Care Organization quality measures. Others base integrated costing processes on them, use them to unlock human resources efficiencies or power personalized consumer marketing campaigns, among many other uses.
Additionally, many academic researchers are finding tremendous value in healthcare data warehouses, driving better understanding of public health, epidemiological and other health topics that benefit not just the organization whose data is being used but the community as a whole. This is one of the areas where effective data warehouse management that embeds HIPAA and other health data policy standards and regulatory requirements can provide additional dividends beyond simple compliance by maximizing the ease with which researchers can access appropriate data without expending additional resources on anonymization.
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