“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.” - Mother Teresa
Our company has a tradition of ending our weekly standup with an inspirational quote provided by a member of the Phrase Health team. When I recently asked if they wanted to stop the practice, our esteemed DevOps engineer emphatically said “[heck] no!” I think that was an enthusiastic way of saying that it’s a nice technique to get motivated on a Monday. Reflecting on some recent quotes, a lot of them revolve around the importance of partnership in conquering difficult tasks. An understandable occurrence; there is no shortage of difficult tasks and complexity in healthcare.
As a technology company that prides itself on turning healthcare data into actionable insights, I recognize that this is a crowded space. However, the amount of raw data collected related to today’s patients is astounding. Beyond the electronic clinical workflow focus of Phrase Health, there is sensing data from wearables, omics data generated from labs and research benches, financial and billing data, and external public health data to name a few. Due to practicality, expertise, timely delivery requirements, and data accessibility, it would be impossible to translate all of it on your own or even within the walls of a single organization.
Efficiently allocating scarce resources
Since our earliest days, we’ve worked alongside innovative health systems that place a high priority on improving their operational and clinical processes, but also on optimally allocating their scarce human capital resources. These partners have spanned large academic medical centers, community health networks, and small standalone hospitals. In all circumstances, we’ve found ways to apply our technology and expertise to augment existing processes in order to support informatics, quality, analytics, and IT.
When exploring potential new partnerships, I may hear: “we can do this ourselves.” So why do our partners align and renew with us? Simple - delegation to trustworthy partners is a means of operating effectively. At one obvious extreme, health systems don’t manufacture the televisions that are in patient rooms. As the output in question becomes more aligned with the mission of the health system, it becomes more of a gray area. This is increasingly true for technical tasks as healthcare data becomes digitized and health systems increasingly hire engineers, analysts, and other technical roles to work with that data.
To be clear, the same is true for Phrase Health. As a small company, there are a lot of tasks that we can’t manage optimally internally. Most notably, we discovered quickly that defining clinical outcomes is not an easy feat and so, earlier this year, we partnered with Vizient, the leader in healthcare quality and analytics. Additionally, we partner with vendors like Intercom (to provide in-app widgets to help provide instant help to our end-users), Vanta (to ensure robust infrastructure security and compliance), AWS (to host scalable hardware infrastructure), and several others.
Applying to informatics and quality improvement reporting and analytics
Our goal at Phrase Health is not to put highly skilled human analysts out of a job, replace business intelligence tools like Tableau, or render obsolete native electronic health record (EHR) reporting tools like Epic’s SlicerDicer. The amount of data that exists within the EHR is enormous and the end-user need for information is insatiable. One clinician recently told me that she had to wait 12 months (!) to get data returned about usage of an EHR tool. As a result, just like there is the mantra to ensure clinicians operate “top of license,” we need to ensure analytics teams operate “top of license” as well in order to optimize efficiencies.
Phrase Health has a dedicated team comprised of clinicians, informaticists, engineers, and a client success experts that is solely focused on optimizing informatics workflows (and their relationship with quality improvement). This includes infusing cutting-edge NIH-funded research and incorporating published best practices like applying a “cranky comments” heuristic to feedback text. This offloads work on health system reporting teams so that they can focus on much more custom and focused questions within this same topic or on covering the broad domain of healthcare data needs more generally. Similarly, informatics, quality improvement, and clinical operations teams using Phrase Health are spending less time in meetings defining needs and less time waiting on actionable insights. This means happier and more efficient staff that are more quickly delivering cost-saving measures and better patient outcomes.
Bringing it together
Our work at Phrase Health touches a fraction of the available data that exists in healthcare. However, when it comes to optimizing electronic workflows and, with the help of our friends at Vizient, associated links to patient and cost outcomes, we have unique expertise and a team dedicated to delivering actionable information to health systems.
Within the domain of this sort of data and analytics, consider the following:
- What are the turnover and hiring costs associated with highly skilled reporting analysts?
- What time investment of clinical informatics, quality, and clinical subject matter expertise is required to generate a single insightful informatics-based report or dashboard?
- What costs are associated with delays in delivering information for operational projects?
- What is your roadmap for maintaining and improving these reports and dashboards over time?
Health systems, like all enterprises, continually face the decision to build versus buy. Should your organization build everything yourself? Of course not. Should your organization build and maintain the infrastructure in the domain that Phrase Health focuses on? I’ll just say I’m biased, but please reach out to me if you’d like us to help quantify your organization’s costs related to some of the questions above.
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