Healthcare in the digital era


(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 3 2015)

Sutter Health, one of the leading not-for-profit networks of community-based healthcare providers in the USA, implemented a master data platform in nine months across a decentralised organisation with the help of Informatica.

Sutter Health is one of the leading not-for-profit networks in the USA. The community-based healthcare provider delivers care across more than 100 Northern California communities. Sutter Health is taking bold steps to enhance the well-being of people. This involves resetting the standard for compassionate, excellent healthcare services through expert, personalised care that is both high quality and affordable. 

The strategy is both a competitive differentiator and an opportunity to improve patient outcomes. The Sutter executive team understood that the insights needed to be successful in winning patient loyalty and delivering great, cost-effective care were contained within the explosion of data being generated across the system every day. By taking a holistic approach to leveraging data as a corporate asset, Sutter Health would be poised to deliver more consistent, relevant and cost-effective enterprise performance management.These advanced analytics would contribute significantly to enhancing operational performance, improving clinical outcomes and reducing the total cost of care.

This strength is also proving to be among the greatest challenges, with the care provider needing to unlock the potential contained within all its data. 

Relevant data surrounding everything from patients and providers, to interactions, locations and employees resided in local, difficult to reach application silos across the health system. “To create a more personalised, high-value healthcare experience, we had to make use of our data differently,” explains Vijay Venkatesan, VP of enterprise data management, Sutter Health. “We had a requirement to make trusted data available more quickly to more people, allowing for new insights to be discovered. A focus on data access and use would achieve even higher levels of healthcare quality and access.” 

In response, Sutter Health took an agile and programmatic approach to accelerate the value of analytics. As part of the enterprise information management program, a big data paradigm was adopted. This included a data lake to serve as a centralised catalog for information across the enterprise. This was paired with data management tools which extract data from source locations, transform it into trusted, usable forms and make it available to all stakeholders. Executives knew that looking internally and making better decisions wasn’t enough though. The care provider also needed to take action to more effectively operate as a single, integrated organization. ‘One Sutter’ is the credo for this farreaching transformation: a strategy to create a single, patient-centric view of the organisation. 

A key component of this ‘One Sutter’ initiative is an enterprise customer relationship management (CRM) platform based on within the Shared Services organisation. The intent is to consolidate services, drive more cohesion and spearhead the development of a dedicated health plan offering. When a member patient contacts the call center, for example, presents agents with a complete, integrated view of the member patient’s demographic details, care history, and policy details. To provide this total customer view will help steer more responsive and targeted service, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Master data management (MDM) is the glue that binds these initiatives together, so to speak, introducing a single golden record of employees, patients, members, providers, facilities and their interactions thus enabling ‘One Sutter’. 

Sutter Health deployed the first five domains of this MDM strategy (patient, employee, healthcare provider, facility and reference domains) in only nine months. By gathering use cases, prioritising them and executing one use case at a time, the team was able to rapidly achieve value from meaningful analytics and accurate master data. It thus generated additional credibility and increased support for the programme. Moving forward, the intent is to release a new use case every ninety days. Venkatesan comments, “This data management strategy enables Sutter Health to understand the relationships between individuals and locations within the care delivery network. This all contributes to outstanding care delivery, affordability and patient satisfaction.” 

The pilot programme Advanced Illness Management (AIM) demonstrates the power of the strategy. The aim is to provide timely dashboards and self-service to all stakeholders to improve patient care and regulatory compliance.

Previously, AIM reporting involved a lot of spreadsheets, low user adoption and no self-service reporting capability. The comprehensive view of reliable data accelerates self-service analytics by making common data definitions easy to find and use through formalised governance and stewardship. The result? The thirst for analytics has grown; AIM reporting is now credible and accessible, while users can also rapidly modify the dashboards in a self-service environment, free of IT bottlenecks. 

Sutter Health standardised on a comprehensive portfolio of integrated Informatica data management technologies, including data integration, data quality, MDM and information lifecycle management (ILM). Informatica Powercenter draws data from multiple sources and formats and integrates them. Informatica Data Quality cleanses that data at the source, ensuring it is reliable, accurate and trusted. Informatica is powering self-service analytics through access to clean, safe and connected data. Informatica Multidomain MDM is the business enabler in the deployment, the engine that brings together the total view of healthcare providers, locations, employees, patients, members and their interactions. This is based upon the data governance policies defined by the business and managed by data stewards throughout the organization. Informatica Multidomain MDM supports multiple domains of data and informs analytics with relevant and trustworthy customer data. 

Productivity is further enhanced through a unique and complete picture of valuable relationships within and between the data. This includes, for example, understanding when patients receive care, associating members to their household and tracking patient to care team relations over time. The Informatica Multidomain MDM hub supports not only Sutter Health’s analytics environment, but makes master data, hierarchies and relationship data available to operational systems across the extended Sutter Health enterprise. 

A long time IBM Initiate customer, Sutter Health chose Informatica MDM as the enterprise MDM platform for two key reasons. First, the ease and speed at which complex data governance policies could be implemented, and second, Informatica’s true multi-domain capability that enabled the company to master virtually any data across the enterprise.

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Informatica is a leading independent software provider focused on delivering transformative innovation for the future of all things data.

Informatica GmbH


Sutter Health

Picture credits © Mark Airs/Getty Images

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