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WellSpan Health

Building an Analytics Center of Excellence (ACoE) at WellSpan Health

Customer: WellSpan Health
Industry: Hospitals and Health Care
Headquarters: York, Pennsylvania
Serving: South Central Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland
Website: https://www.wellspan.org/


What Was Needed

  • Insight for strategic leadership and confident decision making
  • Synthesis of data and analytics assets for operational enhancement and business advantage
  • Effective one-stop information and data advisory shop

What We Delivered

  • Detailed enterprise-wide analytics assessment, strategy, and roadmap
  • Step-by-step process, coaching, and project management for agile-based analytics workflows and business relationship management (BRM) alignment Interim ACoE executive leadership to lead data culture transformation
  • Partner evaluation and selection to supplement internal skill sets and enable ACoE to scale at a rapid pace

Client Results

  • Complete data governance standardization
  • Closed health-equity gap in key quality metrics
  • Actionable insight for multipurpose optimization (real-time blood bank inventories, value-based care prioritization, supply-chain resilience)
  • Ability to attract and retain quality talent, drive innovation, and expand market share

“Internally, the demand generation has been huge. We were able to deliver high-quality products in the last three years. It’s like we are serving a good five course meal, and still, they’re hungry because there’s so much appetite for what our ACoE produces.”

Kamalakar Jasti, Chief Analytics Officer at WellSpan Health

WellSpan Health Customer Success Story

What is an Analytics Center of Excellence?

An analytics Center of Excellence (ACoE) is a health system’s nucleus for driving enterprise-wide data and analytics for decision making, deriving insights, and answering questions. It enables organizations to accelerate their data maturity and drive clinical and operational performance to measure and monitor outcome improvements.

The Wellspan Health Story

WellSpan Health is an award-winning not-for-profit community health organization with 200 locations, including 8 hospitals, serving diverse populations throughout South Central Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland.

In 2019, WellSpan Health engaged Healthlink Advisors to establish an ACoE, merging its business intelligence and traditional information technology analytics with business domain analysts for the purpose of deriving enterprise-wide actionable insight.

Beyond a siloed function of IT for creating scorecards and dashboards, the Healthlink Advisors ACoE framework is designed to serve as the first point of contact for strategic data-driven advisory capabilities and broad situational awareness — investigating questions, routing problems, providing solutions, and surfacing insight for executive teams, as well as clinical and business unit leadership throughout the organization.

Proving Value Straight Out of the Gate

The unfortunate arrival of COVID-19 immediately made WellSpan Health’s nascent ACoE a focal point because everyone was looking for data. Even in those early days, the ACoE was able to show value in predictive models using industry-developed models (from Johns Hopkins, CHIME, Penn Medicine,
etc.) customized for WellSpan for planning its own patient volumes and supply models for managing issues like COVID waves and PPE equipment.

“In year one, WellSpan was able to get the right roles and skill sets for their ACoE. And they’ve had a lot of success in terms of aligning the types of analytics that matter to the strategic objectives that business teams internally hadn’t been able to see and use. That to me is a differentiator.”

Tina Burbine, VP Care Innovation & Analytics at Healthlink Advisors

An Appetite for Analytics

Subsequently, demand generation for the ACoE has been huge, but WellSpan Health faces the same staff-shortages and tight economics plaguing healthcare organizations nationwide. Healthlink Advisors has been able to help bridge the gap through relationships locally and nationally, engaging key analytics partners and vendors to supplement WellSpan’s internal skill sets and enable its ACoE to continue scaling.

WellSpan Health’s ACoE has been able to attract analytics talent to a region and sector not known as a hotbed for data-science activity. “We’re able to demonstrate a lot of opportunity for people who are interested in doing something potentially very transformative,” said Kamalakar Jasti, Chief Analytics Officer at Wellspan Health. “There’s a different level of job satisfaction when you’re working in the middle of serious health crises, saving lives through data and analytics, helping clinicians and patients.”

Real Results That Matter

WellSpan Health’s ACoE knows that because healthcare is complex, population health analytics is different from clinical quality analytics, which is different from finance or supply chain, which is different from customer engagement, patient experience, and market analytics. But with Healthlink Advisors, they’ve created an agile operating model, with multifaceted teams to serve stakeholders, as well as a data governance model that is standardized, cohesive, and transparent.

The ACoE is intentionally focused on communication, change management, and data- literacy coaching to improve adoption of its tools. It’s been instrumental in supplying real-time blood supply inventory visibility across locations, for example. And it has built other meaningful products used in day-to-day decision making for insight and data-based interventions that helped

WellSpan Health achieve its goal to close the health equity gap in key quality metrics. With the aid of the ACoE’s standardized data governance leadership, program managers used data to drive quality measures. And Wellspan Health has successfully decreased disparity in health screening rates for colorectal and breast cancer between demographic groups, and also significantly reduced inequities in severe maternal morbidity, COVID-19 mortality, and COVID-19 vaccination rates.

Data-Driven Future

Gartner has noted that “healthcare transformation to a digitally connected care ecosystem cannot happen without expert data capabilities,” and data-literacy is fast becoming a core competency for healthcare leadership. Wellspan Health’s ACoE has only just begun playing its pivotal role in leading that journey, but with support from Healthlink Advisors, it has already demonstrated laudable success cultivating an enterprise-wide data culture.