Another baseball season is underway, which means another round of fantasy baseball for millions of fans, including me.
I’ve been playing Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball with the same group of friends for over 10 years. We keep the same players year-to-year, which creates a sense of ownership for our teams. But it means that it takes some attention and analysis to turn a mediocre team (like the one I had) into a winning one. Yogi Berra famously said that baseball is 90% mental and the other half physical.
But in fantasy baseball, it’s all mental.
I’ll admit that for a long time, I didn’t have much success in our fantasy league. But last year (after a drought of 10+ years) I finally won the title.
What made the difference?
I started integrating and analyzing data. In other words, I became information-driven in my approach to managing my fantasy team.
Before my information-driven “transformation”, I would rely on 1 source of data to evaluate players: Yahoo!’s own fantasy rankings. The problem was that those rankings didn’t provide enough data (i.e., statistics that mattered to me) so I couldn’t slice-and-dice the data in my own way.
I finally realized that I needed to take control of my analysis.
I built a process to acquire more extensive data from Baseball-Reference.com, integrate it with Yahoo! data, calculate my own metrics and perform my own analysis. With this data at my fingertips, I could find undervalued players, make favorable trades and build a better team.
For example: Jose Fernandez, a starting pitcher for the Florida Marlins, had only 2 wins after the first 2 months of the season and a so-so earned run average (ERA). But I noticed that Fernandez had a great strikeout rate and good defense-independent pitching stats. When another fantasy owner in my league dropped Fernandez, I quickly snatched him up. Fernandez then went on to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award, finishing first in the league in strikeouts per inning and second in ERA.
What does this have to do with healthcare?
Health systems face the same challenge I did before my information-driven transformation. They have silos of data, none of which can give them a complete view of their performance, much less of the factors that drive that performance.
Electronic medical records provide a rich store of clinical data, but can’t provide insight into the total cost of care of patients for whom providers assume accountability through ACOs or bundled payment programs. And claims let providers see total cost of care and understand the full spectrum of care a patient receives, but don’t include conditions or observations for which a provider isn’t reimbursed.
Today’s health systems need integrated data.
Why? Because integrated data support a broader set of analytics. They can answer questions like:
- Which high-cost supplies fail to produce better clinical outcomes?
- What labor mix improves profitability without sacrificing quality?
- What socio-economic factors help predict readmissions?
- Which care coordination strategies help reduce total cost of care?
But information-driven health systems need more than just answers to these questions.
They need to be able to ask their own questions, slice-and-dice integrated data their own way, and perform their own analysis. This means that health systems need more than just packaged analytics applications.
They need an enterprise data warehouse that includes these capabilities:
- The ability to easily acquire and integrate data from distinct data silos (preferably without a lot of manual effort)
- Master data management to recognize and link patient and provider information across those distinct data sets
- Reference data management and mapping to standardize data sets to common vocabularies
- Business intelligence tools that let business users do their own analysis and generate their own insights
Luckily (unlike my hobby) this ability to integrate and analyze data isn’t a fantasy. Forward-thinking health systems are implementing enterprise data warehouses that include these capabilities and are using them to enable their own information-driven initiatives. And they’ll achieve success more important and meaningful than my fantasy baseball title.