Business Intelligence in Healthcare During and After COVID-19

Suffolk MBA Online program graduate addresses team of healthcare professionals wearing masks.
Suffolk MBA Online program graduate addresses team of healthcare professionals wearing masks.

MBA program graduates specializing in business intelligence turn floods of healthcare data into life-saving solutions every day. The amount of healthcare data produced each year grew from 153 exabytes in 2013 to 2,314 exabytes in 2020. Data analysts know how to cut through the noise and find invaluable resources for doctors, nurses, and administrators.

Daniel Kavanaugh, Suffolk University MBA/Health Management ‘14, has been crucial in the rapid transformation of telehealth at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. As Program Director of Virtual Care, he led the change from 16 virtual encounters a day before the pandemic to over 2,000 a day by late March. This use of technology not only reduces risk and saves lives, but it also frees up providers and reduces costs.

“I do think it’s sustainable to have a mix of in-person care and virtual care,” says Kavanaugh. “If we look at all our ambulatory clinics and how much virtual care we’re doing on a daily basis, why can’t we keep that in a virtual space?”

In the midst of a pandemic, business intelligence in healthcare means allocating personal protective equipment correctly and finding a vaccine breakthrough. Suffolk University’s cutting-edge MBA Online program with a concentration in business intelligence trains future analysts to turn data into business intelligence useful to healthcare practitioners.

Analytical programs and processes will be needed long after COVID-19 to anticipate the next public health issue. We can look at examples throughout the healthcare industry to see the impacts of analytics. Suffolk University’s full-time faculty equip MBA Online program students to navigate through similar real-world examples below.


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Improving Frontline Outcomes with Analytics

The COVID-19 outbreak is showing the strains of public health crises on emergency rooms and hospital systems. As of February 17, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 27,600,391 cases of COVID-19 in the United States.

Frontline healthcare workers have to juggle COVID-19 cases in addition to heart attacks, cancer, and other ailments requiring intervention. Business intelligence learned in an innovative MBA program solves myriad problems facing emergency rooms and clinics across the country.

A data-driven approach to COVID-19 and other diseases manages personnel and care quality without exhausting resources. Frontline healthcare facilities have shown in recent years how to effectively use data analytics and applications to manage limited assets. The following case studies show the potential for analytics in dealing with COVID-19.

Butterworth Hospital and ER Personnel Management

Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan faces stresses common to emergency departments. Nurses and doctors are stretched thin due to poor alignment between personnel and varied patient arrivals.

Grand Valley State University and Butterworth Hospital sought to quantify these challenges. A year-long data project evaluated peak periods on a seasonal basis. Nurses entered patient data into an electronic health record (EHR) system for later analysis.

The result of this project was a forecasting tool that aligned staffing levels with projected caseloads. Butterworth Hospital administrators can forecast caseloads every two hours based on historical data. Nursing schedules adjusted to these forecasts reduce overtime needs and stress levels for personnel.

Overtime costs due to personnel misalignment were reduced by $110,113 in the forecasting model’s first 10 months. Emergency room administrators can replicate these savings by employing:

  • An analyst who can evaluate patient data patterns;

  • Nursing department heads familiar with analytical models;

  • Nurses who can enter patient data regularly to maintain forecasting inputs

This analytical approach to ER personnel management is especially useful during a pandemic. Department heads are attempting to balance patient care with nurse wellbeing and costs.

Butterworth Hospital’s EHR pilot showed the growing value of data analysis in healthcare. Suffolk University designed its MBA Online program to help graduates deploy best practices across different industries. MBA program with a concentration in business intelligence graduates are ready to consult with hospitals from day one thanks to courses in:

  • Business Intelligence and Data Analytics;

  • Data Management and Modeling;

  • Enterprise Data Management.

Total Access Urgent Care and Clinic Performance

Total Access Urgent Care (TUAC) followed a similar path as Butterworth Hospital but with different aims. The urgent care network looked for an analytical solution to patient experiences with healthcare. FAIR Health’s study of urgent care use from 2007 to 2016 showed:

  • A 1,725% increase in urgent care use

  • A 229% increase in ER use

  • A $320 cost for a 25-minute office visit

  • 27% of all visits were related to respiratory conditions

TUAC responded to increased urgent care use by measuring the quality of care step by step. Each clinic measures time spent on intake, waiting, nursing consultations, and diagnostics. The network also measures performance of staff.

Business intelligence in healthcare helped TUAC expedite and improve patient care across 25 clinics. Using real-time data analysis from Insight by Experity, TUAC was able to reduce service time to 60 minutes or less for 85% of its patients. Backroom staffers reduced invoice turnaround times from 34 days to 27 days using analytics.

Suffolk University’s MBA Online program offers a business intelligence concentration for students who want to replicate TUAC’s successes. MBA program candidates learn valuable data design, management, and presentation skills from experienced faculty. Graduates have gone to work for Boston-area healthcare providers like Partners HealthCare.

Business Analytics in Healthcare Research

Eliminating COVID-19 is a multi-front effort that cannot be reduced to a single solution. Public health experts have identified the following steps to reduce the outbreak’s impact:

  • Testing processes that are accurate and scalable;

  • Tracing contacts between cases with positive tests and community members;

  • Physical distancing and personal hygiene steps to reduce transmission;

  • Ensuring sufficient hospital capacity for localized outbreaks;

  • Development of a safe and effective vaccine.

Business analytics is particularly useful for testing and treatment development. COVID-19 research has evolved over months based on patient symptoms, transmission rates, and frontline observations.

Analysts will be integral to advancing research and helping scientists stop COVID-19 in its tracks. The following examples include aspects of business intelligence taught in Suffolk University’s Online MBA program. MBA candidates are ready for healthcare consulting jobs after graduation thanks to guidance from world-class faculty.

Cleveland Clinic and Emerging Pathogens Research

Cleveland Clinic is a nationally recognized hospital looking to the future of medical research. The clinic’s Center for Global and Emerging Pathogens Research will use analytical tools to anticipate and isolate future outbreaks. Eighteen months of development coincided with the outbreak and encouraged a faster track for the center.

The clinic started by reviewing existing medications with an AI-enabled program to determine applicability to COVID-19. This effort revealed 19 single or multi-drug treatments with potential impacts on the virus. Additional initiatives by the center will:

  • Review thousands of patient tissue samples and EHRs for outbreak patterns

  • Develop predictive analytics frameworks based on patient data

  • Leverage a partnership with SAS for an analytical tool for hospitals with limited resources

Graduates of Suffolk University’s MBA Online program are poised to replicate this work. Suffolk University uses innovative teaching methods and virtual meetings with Boston healthcare leaders to train future analysts.

The foundation for Cleveland Clinic and other research facilities are business intelligence principles like:

  • Developing databases to accommodate large volumes of data;

  • Protecting research data with the latest security methods;

  • Visualizing analyses for stakeholders.

Cleveland Clinic plans to turn the center’s research into clinical trials and treatments that could prevent the next COVID-19. This healthcare system is showing how business analytics in healthcare can be mobilized on multiple fronts to combat outbreaks. MBA program graduates specializing in business intelligence can help researchers anticipate future outbreaks.

Change Healthcare’s Market Insights Database

Patient data from EHRs and insurance claims provide invaluable insights into medical care. An EHR shows an individual’s past illnesses, treatments, and life circumstances. Insurance claims feature physician coding and documentation that dimension to patient narratives.

Change Healthcare provides payment and financial technology to healthcare providers. The company processes billions of documents through its systems each year. This data stream has been turned into the COVID-19 Analytics Data Sets.

Government agencies and healthcare providers can access the database as they deal with COVID-19. Anonymized patient data allows the user to review factors including;

  • Intervention success or failure by code;

  • Impacts of pre-existing or concurrent illnesses on COVID-19 symptoms;

  • Economic and social impacts on treatments.

Comprehensive data offered by Change Healthcare saves time and resources spent by researchers to find this information. Tim Suther of Change Healthcare summarized the project’s goals by saying:

“These data sets enable robust analysis by the country’s leading medical data scientists to understand actual disease progression, the effectiveness of various interventions, and impacts to the healthcare system overall.”

Suffolk University trains MBA program graduates to produce innovative tools like the COVID Analytics Data Sets. Virtual meetings with healthcare and business leaders emphasize the importance of data-driven solutions. These collaborations plus advanced business intelligence courses prepare MBA program graduates for immediate success as consultants.

Business Analytics in Healthcare Administration

Hospital boards and administrators face supply chain and revenue challenges during COVID-19. Business analytics can help counter the following trends published by the American Hospital Association:

  • An average treatment cost of $88,000 for patients requiring ventilator intervention;

  • A 13% decrease in adjusted discharges from 2019 to 2020

  • A four-month loss of $202.6 billion for hospitals

COVID-19 interventions require substantial resources and personnel along with space for patient isolation. Prospective patients are delaying elective surgery and routine care due to concerns about the virus. Healthcare administrators need business analysts to best use resources and expand treatment capacity.

Suffolk University’s MBA Online program with a concentration in business intelligence turns students into analysts and consultants ready to address the following administration challenges. MBA program candidates draw on lessons from Boston business leaders, full-time faculty, and colleagues around the world.

Supply Chain Opportunities for Hospitals

COVID-19 has revealed inefficiencies and gaps in hospital supply chains. American healthcare is a patchwork of hospital networks, clinics, and urgent care facilities. Data-driven supply chain systems are critical to ensuring frontline personnel have the supplies to help patients.

Physicians are often allowed to mark tools and equipment as preference items. Statista found there were 870,900 active physicians in the United States. Even a small percentage of physicians selecting unique items prevents cost-saving bulk purchases.

Aspiring business analysts and developers learn to identify supply chain solutions at Suffolk University. This unconventional MBA program synthesizes business and healthcare challenges throughout each course. The online MBA program’s business intelligence concentration trains students to develop solutions like preference item standardization.

This purchase standardization process aided by data analytics frees resources for high-priority upgrades. Data-driven standardization could also create dynamic supply chains in response to outbreaks. A survey of 52 healthcare system executives found 98% of respondents were interested in standardized item purchases.

Complying with State and Federal Rules

Hospital systems and patients share frustrations with navigating insurance policies. The complex regulations for private policies, state insurance, and Medicare requires nimble systems and skilled analysts. Business analytics ensures compliance and smooth patient experiences through claims processes.

Compliance challenges are compounded in cities with growing healthcare industries like Boston. Suffolk University faculty works with the city’s healthcare leaders to train MBA Online program candidates. This guidance comes from leaders who have overseen growth in the following areas from 1998 to 2018:

  • 149% growth in the number of healthcare facilities;

  • 45% growth of employment in healthcare industries;

  • 38% more healthcare facility openings than closures.

We can use the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) from Medicare to see the effects of analytics. HRRP began in 2012 with hopes of reducing costs for patients who are readmitted within 30 days of initial care. This program was informed by a New England Journal of Medicine article that found:

  • 19.6% of 11,855,702 Medicare recipients experienced readmission within 30 days

  • 34% of Medicare recipients experienced readmission within 90 days

  • A $17.4 billion cost for short-term readmissions in the study period

Hospitals and clinics with excessive readmissions are penalized with payment reductions under HRRP. Administrators are nudged to improve initial diagnoses and treatments for Medicare beneficiaries.

Business analytics keep hospitals in compliance with HRRP standards. Data forecasting tools informed by patient records can determine the likelihood of readmission within 30 days. Coordination with private practices, specialists, and home care providers turns this data into healthier patients and bottom lines.

Tying Healthcare Analytical Threads Together

Your daily work on business analytics in healthcare will likely center on one of the aforementioned areas. Early-career analysts can revolutionize the field by acting as healthcare connectors. Doctors, nurses, and administrators cannot help COVID-19 patients with siloed data and password-protected analytical tools.

Suffolk University’s MBA Online program prepares data-driven professionals to solve healthcare problems soon after graduation. MBA program professors and students benefit from the school’s long history of online education while developing real-world solutions. You are prepared for the following roles if you complete this leading MBA program:

  • Application analyst

  • Healthcare data analyst

  • Project manager

We need analysts, administrators, researchers, and frontline personnel on the same page to fight COVID-19. Business analytics can follow certain practices to create united fronts against outbreaks and public health crises.

Achieving Data Maturity in Healthcare Analytics

The International Institute of Analytics (IIA) categorizes organizational data usage on a five-step scale. IIA’s Data Maturity Curve includes the following stages:

  • Stage 1: Analytically Impaired

  • Stage 2: Localized Analytics

  • Stage 3: Analytical Aspirations

  • Stage 4: Good at Analytics

  • Stage 5: Analytical Nirvana

    The emerging nature of business analytics means most organizations are closer to Stage 1 than Stage 5. Analysts need to keep their eyes on Stage 5 as they help healthcare providers weather COVID-19 and other issues.

    Publicis Health provides a four-step lifecycle for reaching Analytical Nirvana. The most successful analytical processes achieve:

    • Conversion of data into narratives that inspire action;

    • Real-time analysis of data for individualized care;

    • Service-focused usage that recognizes the humanity behind data;

    • Freeing and simplifying data for broader internal use.

    Reaching Analytical Nirvana will be expedited by tech-savvy healthcare providers informed by their COVID-19 experiences. Business intelligence succeeds when patients are educated and empowered.

    You can break into the analytics profession by following your curiosity and learning how to turn data into solutions. Suffolk University uses unique teaching and collaborative methods in its MBA Online program to impart real-world business intelligence challenges.

    MBA Program Graduates Lead Analytics Growth in Healthcare

    Analysts are critical to improving overall public health and preparing for outbreaks like COVID-19. Your future work in healthcare analytics will impact patients, personnel, and administrators throughout the industry. The intrinsic rewards of business analytics flow from every project and client served in your career.

    The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) placed business analytics into another context for early-career practitioners. Business analysts working in the industry earn an average salary that is 15.2% more than the professional average. IIBA also found that:

    • 34% of all analysts are aged 26 to 35 years old

    • 34.3% of all analysts hold master’s degrees

    • 64% of all analysts have less than 10 years of experience

    You will need an MBA program that strengthens your business analytics skills. You also need an MBA program that brings together experienced academics and business experts committed to solving global problems. The MBA Online concentrating in Business Intelligence offered by Suffolk University achieves all of these objectives.

    Suffolk University’s MBA Program Trains Analytical Leaders

    Graduate students in this cutting-edge MBA program with a concentration in business intelligence learn how to turn complex data into business solutions. The MBA Online program develops student skills in SQL and SAP software, which are invaluable to future employers. Suffolk University designed its business intelligence courses to prepare graduates for the SAS Joint Certificate in Analytics and other industry certifications.

    The Online MBA program is built on more than 20 years of high-quality online education. Suffolk University’s faculty know the ins and outs of the healthcare industry. The university also draws on relationships with leading organizations in Boston working toward the next generation of healthcare intelligence.

    The value of a Suffolk University degree extends beyond a high-quality curriculum. U.S. News & World Report ranked the school highly in the following categories:

    • No. 21 in Most Innovative Schools

    • No. 38 in Regional Universities North

    • No. 71 in Best Value Schools

    Suffolk University has received plenty of plaudits for its business school. For example, The Princeton Review placed the school among its Best Business Schools for 2020. Healthcare industry leaders searching for data-driven professionals need to look no further than Suffolk University.

    Become an expert business leader with an MBA Online Concentrating in Business Intelligence from Suffolk University.