Healthcare analytics promises massive rewards by improving hospitals efficiency. For Africa, the drawback’s that countries don’t have millions of dollars to spend on ICT upgrades and developments. An article in Healthcare IT News shows that hospitals don’t need a staff of 50 and a US$3 million budget to achieve valuable investment returns from healthcare analytics.
Karen Reff, manager of decision support at Union General Hospital, a small facility in Georgia with 45 beds, invested US$50,000 and launched an analytics programme that freed staff from time-consuming data-crunching. It enabled clinicians to spend more time on delivering care and uncovering best practices to help reduce readmissions and pinpoint the best location for an outpatient clinic for Chronic Obstructive Pulimnary Disease COPD and Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) patients.
“It all started with our CEO finally crossing his pain threshold for what he could tolerate when it came to trying to manage and mine data in Excel, having everyone working from the same page,” Reff explained. “From there it was a very organic process. I read tons of literature, including Gartner’s magic quadrant reports, and other information online to see what other organizations were doing. I investigated quite a few vendors, narrowed it down to six, and asked for RFPs.”
After several months, the hospital found a vendor that met its needs within the hospital’s budget and price range. Reff said the analytics programme has helped to reduce readmissions substantially. “In the past, 30-day readmissions were reviewed and reported quarterly due to the time-intensive process required to gather the information needed for analysis,” Reff said. “Now the information is reviewed and considered on a monthly basis by the case management team to identify opportunities to reduce readmissions. Additionally, since readmission information is now available to case managers in real time, interventions can be implemented in a more timely manner.”
African countries with tight budgets can learn from Union General Hospital. Implementing an analytics programme can be modest investment with more chance of sustainability. Good research into what’s available and a good understanding of needs and budgets, it’s possible to set up an affordable service that delivers real value. It should find a place in Africa’s eHealth strategies.