September 1, 2011 – The health care business intelligence market is starting to take off, but even in an increasingly crowded marketplace there's plenty of "green fields" for both enterprise and focused software, according to Lorin Bird, strategic operations manager at vendor research firm KLAS Enterprises and one of the authors of the recently released "Business Intelligence: Making Cents of Performance."

Fifty-six percent of organizations surveyed say they are moving to an enterprise strategy for BI use, and many report doing so because they're tired of having internal arguments about data, Bird says.

"Respondents are telling us they're getting in a room and arguing about what the data says: this BI solution says this, another solution says that, and they really want a single source of truth going forward," he says. "From an executive perspective, they feel there all kinds of silos of data." That's a sore point at a particularly critical juncture for respondents: sixty-four percent say they planned to become an accountable care organization within the next three years, which will require a significant ramp-up of business/clinical analyses and reporting.

The vendors sitting at the top of the enterprise heap, according to customer satisfaction surveys from Orem, Utah-based KLAS, were Dimensional Insight, which got high marks for support, implementation and reporting, and Information Builders, which scored well for its data mining capabilities. Many organizations, however, are turning to their core electronic health records or patient accounting vendors for business intelligence solutions. Business Objects (an SAP company) currently is the leader in this market and has a number of partnerships as a back-end solution which other vendors create wrappers around, Bird says.

KLAS found a move to enterprise solutions is a distinct trend, but some other trends garnering buzz are at this point more talk than action. Pulling from disparate domains for spend analytics, using predictive analytics to evaluate revenue strategies including ACO models, and taking BI mobile are all available capabilities that are getting a lot of attention, but few providers have put them to use, with only 43 percent, 15 percent, and 12 percent of respondents adopting, respectively.

Also, a move to enterprise BI doesn't necessarily signal a death knell for other vendors in the market. Niche BI products, such as those for surgery and the OR, many have strong champions who want the granularity, custom reporting and short implementation times provided by specialized BI software. "From the end-user perspective of a chief of surgery, they want that time-to-value and other advantages of having a specialized product for their department. So while 56 percent of organizations are planning to rip out those niche products by going the enterprise route, 44 percent are not, so we see a lot of opportunities for niche players."

In addition, specialized products for ACO analytics, nursing, ambulatory, ED analytics and other areas are starting to hit the market in increasing numbers, Bird says. The report found the top-performing departmental clinical BI solution is Humedica, which customers found particularly powerful for measuring physician performance in delivering ambulatory care. Omnicell and Mediware also got high marks, Omnicell for its pharmacy analytics and Mediware for its ability to span clinical/financial intelligence data across single or multiple departments.

Other market insights from the KLAS report: predictive analytics, on the tips of many tongues for years, is still in the very early stages. Only 14 percent of KLAS respondents say they are doing or have a plan to do predictive analytics. "It's still really nascent," Bird says. "For some the thought is not there yet, for many organizations they don't have the capabilities in house or don't have the time and resources to build those models.  There are some software weaknesses there too--many products don't have the capability or just recently added it."

The 225-page report, which provides detailed data on BI vendors and market trends, is available for purchase via the KLAS online store.

This story originally appeared on Health Data Management.

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