Using Cloud-based Business Intelligence (BI) Technology to Transform Your Agency’s Culture of Innovation


By Melissa Fox, MHA, FACMPE, FACHE, COO, Acenda &
Brian Annett, MBA, Senior Director of IT, Acenda

Business Intelligence (BI) tools can play an important role in any business, whether it be a community-based nonprofit or a multi-state corporation. These tools are critical because they provide data visualization, assist in decision-making, and aggregate complex and disparate data points to make them actionable.

Though all of those benefits are crucial to the success of any agency, the usage of BI tools can also help to shift the internal culture to one that embraces and celebrates innovation. Innovative and visionary strategies are of great value in today’s complex care environment. Still, many agencies find it difficult to transition their employee culture to adopt this approach on a large scale.

Acenda faced a challenge similar to many other behavioral health agencies. The landscape of healthcare was changing rapidly to include more integrated care, and value-based payment models were further shifting the delivery of care as well as evolving reimbursement. In order for the agency to not only sustain relevance but also continue to emerge as an industry leader, many operational changes needed to be implemented. Just as importantly, the agency’s internal culture needed to be conducive and receptive to the necessary adjustments.

BI has long had visibility and high usage in medical care. But for behavioral health, in particular, BI tools weren’t as pervasive even though these agencies also collect a significant amount of data regularly. This information is equally important in the behavioral health sector since it can be used not only to retroactively understand community-level trends but also to plan care interventions for the future.

As part of leveraging BI to transition the agency to an innovative culture, Acenda committed to position the perception of data internally as an “asset” with high value and used it as an integral component of our employee training, EHR process development, and even staff communications related to technology. Our Health Information Technology (HIT) team would address not only how the agency collected data but also the hardware configuration and staffing.

Once Acenda launched our BI tool and related dashboards, the team was able to not only connect the importance of data collection but also began thinking creatively about how the data could be utilized. Overall, the implementation of BI helped Acenda to transform because it changed several factors in the agency:

  • Vocabulary: Transitioning from only being focused on the minutiae, to better understanding the impact of the data they captured on high-level strategy.

  • Strategic Focus Points: Now reflecting tactics based on predictive trends.

  • Staff Education: New and current employees better understood how data could inform decision-making and the importance of consistently capturing correct data.

Acenda has transitioned from innovation being an afterthought to one of the leading terms expressed by employees when they thought of the organization. According to Inc., more and more businesses realize the important role BI has in decision-making as well as making information more agile. Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of HP, stated the need to “turn data into information, information into knowledge and insight, and knowledge into a competitive advantage, and to do it in a matter of minutes or seconds, not days or weeks.”

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, business and organizational leaders should invest in technologies that ensure operations are relevant and timely while ensuring organizational culture is receptive to change. By shifting the perception of how data is viewed and potentially utilizing available BI tools, agencies may find a return on their investment that is sustained and well worth the dollars and time spent.

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