San Francisco-based Dignity Health, which has 380 provider locations, 9,000 physicians, and 55,000 employees, is consolidating its analytics initiatives and will work with SAS (this site's sponsor) to create a cloud-based, big-data platform for a library of clinical, social, and behavioral analytics applications.
The partnership, expected to last for at least five years, came about after a year-long RFP process and stemmed from a review of the health system's existing analytics projects, Dr. Joseph Colorafi, vice president and chief medical information officer, told me today in a phone interview.
"It really is something very foundational and something we have wanted to do for a while. It was just a matter of finding the right partner," Colorafi said. "We've done assessments of our analytics maturity in the past and it turns out that we are not high in terms of maturity."
He says maintenance of the various analytics systems has been manually intensive, and that the system has numerous silos of data that need to be pulled together to present that single point of truth.
Dignity Health plans to launch the new effort with a focus on defining best-practices for addressing congestive heart failure and sepsis. Using the model created for sepsis, it will then extend the effort to other acute and emergency scenarios, as well as ambulatory care.
Sepsis is generally defined as a life-threatening condition that occurs when chemicals released into the blood stream to fight infection lead to inflammatory reactions throughout the body.
For Dignity Health, a key with sepsis is to identify the symptoms early and alert healthcare professionals. "We're looking at reducing the mortality rate in hospitals. If we can intervene earlier we can avoid having patients going into the ICU and going into renal failure," says Colorafi.
That means employing analytics, not only to identify the symptoms, but to develop an alerts system for patients and providers. What analytics can offer is support for a two-way data exchange. Data about symptoms and patient conditions comes in from the field, and the analytics application can issue alerts. However, one of the concerns is the possibility of too many false-positive reports leading to unnecessary alerts.
So, data will be analyzed to help medical professionals learn which of those alerts turn out to be false, thus improving the accuracy of future alerts. "It's a knowledge-generating medical feedback loop," says Colorafi.
"In order to deliver the right care at the right place, cost, and time for every patient, we must connect and share data across all our hospitals, health centers, and provider network," said Deanna Wise, CIO at Dignity Health, in a press release. "The SAS cloud-based analytics platform will help us better analyze data to optimize and customize our treatment for each patient and improve the care we deliver."
Colorafi added that new analytics capabilities also are tools in helping Dignity Health make the transition that many healthcare organizations are striving for, and that is to move from a fee-for-service model to a value-based business model.
A value-based model for any health provider is intended to reduce costs while improving patient health over time, compensating providers for helping patients to return to health, avoid readmission, and stay healthy, rather than simply getting paid for visits and tests.
With that in mind, Dignity Health is building out value scorecards, measuring results, improvement in patient experiences, and costs for specific use cases. So, top priority for the SAS-supported analytics initiative will be the business use cases that provide the greatest value and return -- early treatment of sepsis being one.