Aug 16 2018

Sanford Health Pulls In Outside Partners to Make the Most of Its Data

Even for the health system’s 60-person analytics team, making the most of data meant calling on collaborative partners.

At Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, S.D., advanced data analytics facilitated by a comprehensive data warehouse is improving patient care in unimaginable ways.

“We needed to centralize our data to have one source of truth,” Doug Nowak, senior executive director of enterprise data analytics at Sanford Health, told HealthTech. “Now we’re mining that data and are able to make informed decisions versus making gut decisions.”

But Sanford Health isn’t approaching its data analytics efforts alone — and as a result, it’s getting the most information that it can out of its data. With the aim to improve care within its walls and elsewhere, the healthcare organization is also sharing its patient information with outside researchers.

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Collaboration Leads to Innovation for Sanford Health

With an enormous amount of data rolling in at all times, viewing and analyzing it all has turned out to be too big of a job, even for Sanford Health’s 60-person analytics team.

“We have so much data that we are not able to look at it all internally,” says Emily Griese, Sanford Health’s director of population health. “We want to get it out to other researchers who can review the data from a different lens and then provide further insights.”

To protect patient privacy, the raw data from Sanford Health is stripped of its personally identifiable information. Then Griese’s team uploads it to outside researchers through a secure data-sharing portal using FTP, she says.

Sanford Health has collaborated with outside researchers on six projects, including one with South Dakota State University that focused on improving engagement with patients. That work helped the data analytics team to build an algorithm geared toward predicting patient no-shows, allowing hospital staff to intervene in advance.

“Through a collaborative effort, our research has helped to shape what they’ve built,” she says.

To learn more about how healthcare organizations are tapping analytics to make the most of Big Data, check out our feature article “How Healthcare Organizations Build a Foundation to Harness Healthcare Analytics.”

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