Building an Actionable Data Strategy Framework for Healthcare Providers

Today’s healthcare providers rely on data, analytics, and actionable insights more than ever. However, coordinating all the systems required to enable best-in-class data infrastructure can be challenging to even the most well-resourced healthcare providers and related organizations.

Organizations are faced with challenges, both old and new. Whether it is the traditional struggle of reducing costs while still improving the overall quality of healthcare services, creating a more equitable practice, or moving to a virtual first environment post-pandemic, you need data to support your decision-making.

Not having a solid data framework strategy will mean that your business objectives will not have the support from a technology, data, and process perspective.

In addition to business goals, healthcare providers face common technical challenges. Healthcare is notorious for having numerous niche specialized technical systems with limited interoperability. Having a cloud system strategy, centered around the Snowflake Data Cloud, facilitates quicker decision-making across domains.

Tying actionable business goals to technology decisions is the most effective way of meeting your objectives more quickly.

This blog outlines eight essential steps that will help your organization plan and build a foundation for an actionable data strategy framework.

For a more detailed and nuanced discussion, please reach out to us directly.

Key Stakeholders

The first step in formulating a proper data strategy is to identify the key players. This may include representatives from executives, front-line nursing and care provider staff, billing specialists, IT, operations, and researchers. 

These key stakeholders should have a vested interest in the data platform, a healthy dose of excitement, and a genuine passion to help transform their healthcare practice by leveraging cutting-edge data and analytic systems.

Ideally, the stakeholder group should be cross-functional and include members from the entire healthcare practice. Clearly defining the roles that each stakeholder will play is important too. Depending on how doctors, IT server technicians, and accounts receivable staff members interact with data will vary greatly, as such, their roles in developing a data strategy will vary equally.

Discovery

The discovery process of existing and needed data is an essential part of the early stages of developing a data strategy. Healthcare systems will need comprehensive and state-of-the-art data assets and tools to effectively provide care to a variety of patient concerns. 

To do so, we guide our partners through a process of inventorying and cataloging data and infrastructure assets, as well as the intended use and need for deploying these assets.

Data Platform Architecture

Healthcare data and analytic systems require a strong foundation with the right data architecture. By architecture, we mean the technical capabilities and tools used to manage the data used by an organization. 

A healthcare provider may keep their data compartmentalized and stored in a cloud service while leveraging various other technologies such as data transformation services, accounting platforms, and visualization and reporting software. 

Of course, special consideration for healthcare systems is how to develop the architecture plan while complying with regulations such as HIPAA.

Technology Assessment

With a sound architectural design, the healthcare provider can assess their existing technology stack and specify requirements to meet their future needs. Such specifications may involve selecting from among patient portal service providers, billing services, or data sharing technologies between various offices, departments, and hospital units.

Data Governance

Striking the right balance between making data available and restricting access can be challenging, particularly when protected health information (PHI) is involved. Based on the architecture specified and the technology tools in use, the next step for a healthcare analytics provider is to determine how data governance will be established. 

Governance is the set of policies and procedures that are in place to restrict and provide access to different types of data users. In most cases, this will require a data catalog and classification system, as well as data stewards and champions. 

This is when your key stakeholders will be invaluable to defining their access needs and necessary procedures.

Organizational Structure

Related to data governance is the healthcare organizational structure. In some cases, this structure may be a simple top-down framework with individuals grouped into departments that ultimately report to a chief data or technology officer. 

In some cases, particularly with complex healthcare provider systems, there is a dispersed organizational structure that has several different chief executives who will have shared authority over the data governance planning and implementation.

Implementation Plan

With the many stages of planning and documentation complete, the final planning element is how the changes will be implemented, by whom, and what contingencies are necessary. 

These elements all come together in an implementation plan. In a hospital or healthcare setting, this implementation plan should be developed in the context of normal operations and any other strategic changes underway within the organization.

Recommendations

To help present the various components to board members, chief executives, and others that may influence or approve of these strategic changes, a concise recommendation document is helpful. This document should outline the key stakeholders, technologies, processes, timelines, and costs associated with the strategic data framework.

In the healthcare ecosystem, this may be tied to how the strategic framework will yield increased patient satisfaction, improved billing remittances, or reduced error rates—all possible with an improved data strategy.

Next Steps

We hope this blog helps set your organization on the right path. At phData, we know this work is foundational to your success and we are here to help. Drawing from years of experience, learning, iterating, and doing this for healthcare customers at every stage of their life cycle, we’ve built a set of tools, processes, reference architectures, and a team that is ready to help you get on the right path towards better-utilizing data and analytics within your organization.

Looking for expert guidance on your data strategy journey? Contact phData today for any questions, advice, best practices, or data strategy services.

More to explore

Accelerate and automate your data projects with the phData Toolkit

Data Coach is our premium analytics training program with one-on-one coaching from renowned experts.