Health Care Organizations Slow to Implement BI Systems

Nearly three-quarters of survey respondents indicated they expected a BI system to be widely used in finance, operations and clinical care.

Despite the acknowledged benefits that health care organizations would realize by implementing business intelligence (BI) platforms, a survey by TEKsystems, a provider of IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services, found that the vast majority have yet to implement a BI system.

The survey indicated 58 percent of respondents’ organizations have not implemented a BI system. This number includes the 36 percent that simply do not have a BI system, 15 percent that do not have such a system but plan to implement one in the next 12-24 months and 7 percent that have a BI system but have yet to implement it.

Forty-two percent of respondents said they have implemented and are currently using a BI system. More than one-third (34 percent) of respondents indicated that data complexity was the top obstacle to reaching their goal of implementing a BI system.

Within the data complexity category, respondents identified the most painful aspects as lack of a standardized data structure (34 percent), analysis requirements (24 percent), and disparate systems and lack of interoperability (23 percent).

Survey results indicated organizations are taking a multi-pronged approach to addressing staffing challenges—another major challenge health care organizations face when implementing BI strategies.

Proactive tactics include consultation with outside vendors (43 percent), using the software vendor’s consulting services (36 percent), hiring permanent staff to support the implementation (35 percent) and hiring contingent labor to support implementation (30 percent).

Nearly three-quarters of respondents indicated they expected a BI system to be widely used in finance (76 percent), operations (75 percent) and clinical care (71 percent). A little more than half (53 percent) expected it to be widely used for compliance.

"Though there’s consensus among health care organizations on the benefits to be derived from BI systems, the reality is that there is a long road ahead for implementation," Allen Kriete, TEKsystems vice president of health care services, said in a statement. "For those without an implementation plan already in place, it will be critical that they identify the necessary skill sets and secure the necessary talent in order to ensure a smooth deployment that is custom-fit for their organization’s unique needs."

Thirty-two percent of respondents believe that the biggest threat to implementation is a lack of skills and resources. Of this group, the reasons most mentioned for this deficiency include lack of internal and external resources and experts (45 percent), commitment of resources to other technology programs (25 percent) and lack of strategic workforce planning expertise (12 percent).

Data completeness and availability were the top goals for business intelligence initiatives, cited by 48 percent of respondents. Other top-cited goals include better connection of patient treatments to medical outcomes (37 percent), optimization of reimbursements (34 percent) and meeting pay-for-performance standards (32 percent).

The survey, conducted on behalf of TEKsystems’ health care services division, represents the views of more than 250 health care professionals, including senior-level health IT executives and medical staff such as CIOs, directors of information systems and clinical informatics, physicians and chief nursing officers.