Today’s Physicians and Hospital Leaders Must Become Data Experts Too

Posted by Quest Diagnostics on Sep 22, 2016 1:45:49 PM


In her recent Healthcare IT News article, Jessica Davis wrote about the increasing importance of the chief clinical officer (CCO). Her most important point comes via a quote in the story’s last paragraph: “From the IT perspective, these physicians (CCOs) have become more savvy in terms of data and metrics. They have to know how to share that data and make it meaningful to enable the right decisions.”

That quote came from Linda Komnick, part of the physician integration and leadership practice at executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. As evidenced by a recent piece she wrote for FierceHealthcare, Komnick is witnessing an important and exciting sea change in healthcare: skillsets and competencies are actually changing as we move closer to value-based care.

In her FierceHealthcare piece, Komnick writes that “Even a decade ago, it would have been unusual for a system’s leading physician to weigh in on payer issues and support strategies related to risk-based contracting.” She goes on to acknowledge the transition is less about titles, CMO, CCO, CIO, etc.and more about the “need for physician executives to take on many more, and new, responsibilities than in the past, especially across ever-expanding networks.”

Taking on new responsibility isn’t easy. It requires a facility with data that many physicians probably didn’t think they’d need. The title of a recent piece in HealthcareITAnalytics by Jennifer Bresnick says it all: “Lack of Big Data Analytics Agility Hobbles Healthcare Orgs.” Bresnick correctly asserted that providers must now invest in “administrative, clinical, and financial analytics tools that can help organizations monitor internal activities, identify bottlenecks, reallocate resources appropriately, and maintain a high quality of clinical care and customer service.”

Echoing Komnick’s assertion that roles are rapidly changing, Bresnick goes on to write that “Eighty-three percent of job listings looking for new members of the hospital executive suite stressed a successful track record with technical implementations and project management, big data analytics skills, and communication competencies.” That’s another clear indication of the massive change we’re seeing.

Bresnick’s article closes with a clear call to the industry, “Healthcare providers that are able to overcome these challenges, leverage big data analytics appropriately, and define a strong organizational mission are likely to meet their regulatory goals, improve clinical care, and deliver high quality business services internally and to their patient customers.” 

Many physicians may not have exited medical school as data experts, but that’s rapidly changing. This is especially true of physicians who seek to climb into health system leadership positions. The journey to value-based care is far from over, but it’s nice to see that we’re starting to equip the people on the front lines with the tools they’ll need to succeed.

*All databases are limited to the data input into them.

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