Health Technologies

Q&A: Banner Health’s Journey Toward a Unified Data Model

HEALTHTECH: Can you talk more about your upcoming HIMSS 2023 session? What do you hope to learn at the conference?

BROOKS: You’ll hear anecdotes about how moving toward a unified data model is and isn’t working, and about the pain points that we’re still working through as a large organization and as an industry as a whole. You won’t hear us say that we’re perfect. You’ll hear real-life issues that we’re still dealing with. And you’ll hear that we’ve tried and failed and kept trying, and I think that’s a really important message for people to hear. This doesn’t happen overnight. It’s OK to try and not hit all the targets that you were hoping to hit, as long as you just keep going back to the drawing board and reiterating, which has definitely been our journey.

I tell people all the time that, to work in this space, you have to love it because you’re going to sometimes fail more than you succeed. You have to just wake up and passionately believe in what you’re trying to achieve. You’re going to fail. Be comfortable with that and keep trying.

What I hope to learn at the conference is the same lessons I’ve learned from others. What is most valuable for me and my colleagues is just hearing from others, what they’ve tried, because we’re all in this together and we’re stronger when we learn from each other. I love hearing from other people. They always give me ideas and make me think of things I’ve never thought about, so that’s what I’m looking forward to the most.

DIVE DEEPER: Understand the importance of having a modern data platform in healthcare.

HEALTHTECH: What advice do you have for healthcare organizations that are still struggling to create a unified data model? What are some steps that they can take now?

BROOKS: Understand what that unified data model will deliver for you. Stay focused on that as your North Star, and then build your processes to support that.

You’ll probably go through a variety of partners to help you achieve that, and that’s OK. Sometimes, we’d like to think that you could pick one partner and get there, but I’m not sure we as an industry are there yet. If I could rewind to myself two years ago, I would tell myself that.

Be OK with trying and failing, and just keep working on it. It’s complex. We had a data architecture that wasn’t designed to support what we’re trying to achieve now. It’s going to take time to build it. It’s not going to happen overnight. I tried to do that; it didn’t work.

As an initial touchpoint, we used what we currently had and tried to make it deliver on some low-hanging fruit, some very clear deliverables. Let yourself fail fast in that space, which is what we did. We looked at what we could achieve with what we had and we quickly figured out what couldn’t work, which allowed us to pivot and go to market.

Sometimes, organizations like to boil the ocean or eat the elephant, or whatever analogy you want to use. My advice: Don’t try to do that. Just pick the one thing that you want to try to achieve that you haven’t been able to, see if your current model and structure can get you there, and if it can’t, have a fast go-to-market and find a solution that can get you there.



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