Business Intelligence: Build or Buy – Considerations for Healthcare Organizations
by Laura Madsen
Originally published September 1, 2009
Healthcare companies find themselves in some very new territory. The investment in IT that is currently being discussed at a federal level could leave many of them with a challenge. The requirements
to store and report data will be many; and small health plans, as well as the many different peripheral industries that support them, will be forced to answer the question of how they intend to meet
the regulation. But, for every problem there is a solution, and it would seem that there are many solutions available – for the right price.
BUYWhen I refer to buying in this context, I mean buying from a “full service” vendor. Full service organizations will provide you with everything from the data model, physical data warehouse and metadata to the standard reports. Some even provide dashboards. All you have to do is send them your data and sit back and wait for your reports. Many of them have very good products, and the reports are well researched and visually impactful. Seem too good to be true? The answer to that is “it depends.” If you are a small organization that has no real IT budget but you need to have some good insight into data, this scenario works well. If you have to provide reports to the healthcare customers that you serve, these organizations are your saviors. They will come in and do exactly as they promise. You will lose some control; and just as in buying software, if you need something changed, you had better either be prepared to wait or pay. But that is a small price to pay for reports that are consistent and insightful without the IT overhead.
However, it is important to know what you are getting in to before you get into it. There are some considerations that should be fully thought through before committing to a full service BI vendor in the healthcare space.
Seven things to consider when you buy are:
BUILDIf you consider your data a corporate asset, then the last thing you want to do is pay for your asset to be managed by someone else. If nothing else, you will lose your market differentiation. If you are in this situation, you should be prepared to invest some money in managing your data asset. You can still plan to purchase a business intelligence tool, but you should be prepared to manage and own the data model, data warehouse, metadata and report construction. Investments for this type of program vary a great deal based on the size of the organization, amount of data and the requirements associated with data usage (how many reports, how much data analysis will there be). You should be prepared to spend millions over a three-year period. The investment should level off after the first 18 months as you move more into a maintenance phase.
Just as with buying, there are some things to consider before you take the next step:
The new regulations for healthcare IT will likely impact many healthcare organizations. Fortunately, regardless of your size, there are good tools and good vendors available to solve your business needs.
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