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Health IT Benchmarking Tool Gives New Insights to Providers

New analytics tool gives health IT professionals a unique ability to see how a product affects another practice of similar type, and allows industry stakeholders to analyze discrepancies.

By Sara Heath

As healthcare facilities continue adopting various health IT systems, the demand among CIOs and other IT professionals to see how their systems work in comparison to other practices has grown.

health IT analytics improved with new Scottsdale Institute benchmarking tool

To facilitate these insights, Impact Advisors and the Scottsdale Institute (SI) created a platform on which CIOs could compare various different forms of health IT, according to a recent press release.

In its report “A Unique Approach to Business Analytics: The Scottsdale Institute Health IT Benchmarking Program,” Impact Advisors and SI detail features of their model to provide health IT insights to CIOs and other healthcare IT workers. This model, called the Health IT Benchmarking Program, allows health IT professionals to compare their experiences with a certain IT system with those of a similar facility. This is accomplished in two phases, SI states.

First, participants use the data collection tool, which asks them to submit information such as financial data, staffing data, functions supported, vendors, and level of IT maturity. Once the data input is complete, participants are given access to the benchmarking database. This database contains all of the de-identified data submitted by all of the participants. From there, participants may select different practices with which they are a comparable match and begin to analyze how the use of health IT systems impacts the practice.

This tool gives IT professionals a unique ability to see how a certain health IT product affects another practice of similar size or type. Furthermore, it allows IT industry stakeholders to understand the differences between these practices and begin to analyze discrepancies.

According to the SI report, participants found this model very useful, with 97 percent of users stating that the benchmarking program allowed them to see a clearer picture of their health IT costs compared to comparable providers. Additionally, 93 percent of respondents stated that they specifically use the SI tool to understand cost variances, and 72 percent state that they use the tool to understand how those variances occurred.

The most prominent feature of this tool is the ability for one practice to compare itself with another, and nearly 97 percent of users reported utilizing this function. However, although SI offers to facilitate an introduction between similar practices if both agree to it, only 45 percent of respondents indicated that they use this function.

Furthermore, this tool has made an impact on how IT professionals communicate with their practice or hospital boards when acquiring new IT systems. Nearly 80 percent of respondents stated that they showed the results from this tool to board members, while 41 percent stated that this tool has actually influenced a practice or hospital board to purchase a new or different IT system.

Overall, participants reported overwhelming approval of this tool, with 100 percent of respondents stating that they found it useful. Additionally, 100 percent of respondents found the data organized according to practice type useful, and 83 percent found the raw data useful as well.

Researchers report that the results of the SI benchmarking survey make it clear that there is some innate value in the program.

“The results from the recent survey of SI Health IT Benchmarking Program participants clearly suggest that there is value in the program’s unique approach. Virtually all respondents use the program to make comparisons with other organizations to get a better understanding of how and why IT costs are different,” the researchers stated.

The report states that this tool is valuable to IT analytics because it takes into account variances amongst different practices.

“Traditionally, IT benchmarking is done by collecting IT cost data from a wide number of respondents and averaging the results. The value of that approach, though – no matter how big the ‘n,’ is limited by the fact that hospitals and health systems do not always calculate IT costs in the exact same fashion,” researchers stated.

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