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Creating a Total Picture

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 01-12-2011 Print

For patients in upstate New York, the path to improved health care may have been inspired by ... Pop-Tarts?

Long before BI/BA emerged as an IT industry buzz phrase, Linda Navarra had a "Eureka!" moment that involved the popular snack. "It was 15 years ago," she recalls. "I was getting targeted ads from Walmart promoting strawberry Pop-Tarts before snowstorms. And I thought, 'Walmart must know that its customers are going to want to load up on Pop-Tarts before a winter storm. Why are they able to come up with this kind of useful knowledge and, in health care, we don't?' What we're doing is about life and death, after all."

Now the CIO of the Capital District Physicians' Health Plan (CDPHP) in Albany, N.Y., Navarra has taken the initiative to deploy BI tools for this very purpose. CDPHP uses BI solutions from HP to take data from financial, claims, clinical and third-party systems to come up with a "total patient picture," with the intention of providing the best health care possible for its 340,000 members. "We can build this picture around years of medical services, lab results, prescriptions and other information," Navarra says. "It allows for faster and more accurate assessments on the part of our physicians [than was previously possible]."

When Navarra arrived at the 800-employee CDPHP four years ago, there was no way of tracking a patient's entire medical history, given how often each patient switched coverage through the years, and how disparate various hospital record-keeping systems could be. HP's solution allowed CDPHP to build a model that essentially "connects the dots" with respect to the far-flung data. This is far from a completed effort.


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