Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Bringing Business Intelligence to Health Information Technology Curriculum

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Bringing Business Intelligence to Health Information Technology Curriculum

Article excerpt


The universal need for improved patient care and reduced healthcare costs combined with the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has elevated the attention on healthcare data management and analysis (Tibken, 2013). Healthcare industry depends on many sources of data to support the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease, illness, injury and other physical and mental impairments in humans, as well as the operation of healthcare service providers and organizations. Healthcare data includes patient information, clinical data, financial data, medical knowledge, and operational data (Groves et al., 2013).

Healthcare data has some unique features such as multiple sources of data, complexity of different datasets (Weber, 2013), levels of regulation, and the potential impact on a patient's health and life. For example, the data in a hospital or clinic is in various formats and comes from multiple sources including clinical and operational data. As the result, such data is difficult to analyze and often fail to deliver its value to users. Another major challenge to healthcare IT today is the explosive data growth, such as digital imaging and electronic health records in general. This is where business intelligence (BI) systems come in to help manage and integrate data, turn data into in meaningful information, and therefore improve patient care, reduce costs, and optimize service provision (Madsen, 2012; Weber, 2013). BI is believed to be the key for enhancing healthcare quality with less cost (Madsen, 2012).

Demand for BI applications for healthcare continues to grow with the increasing volume of data and the desire to learn from the data. The demand for data management and analysis expertise in healthcare is growing at a rapid rate. "Healthcare as an industry is behind in adopting BI, yet no other industry needs it more", as stated in (Madsen, 2012). The KLAS report showed more than half of the healthcare organizations intended to purchase new or replace existing BI systems, and providers are looking at a wide variety of BI tool sets and products to satisfy this need (Graaff and Cameron, 2012). However, the lack of industry knowledge and experience slows the implementation and adoption of BI in healthcare settings.

Academic institutions also realize the trend (College of Coastal Georgia, 2011; Martz et al., 2007) and have laid out great visions on developing such programs. But one of the barriers is the limited educational and training resources (e.g., model curriculum and programs) to focus on the use of information for higher level analytical processing. In the already few healthcare information technology or health informatics programs, fewer have specifically cover the BI component.

We believe that there is a need to bring education and training on BI concepts, technologies, and processes to HIT curricula and programs. The questions are: Is there a strong student interest and demand for BI coverage? What learning outcomes should be achieved and what content need to be covered? How do we design modules, courses, or tracks in different situations? And what teaching resources are available? In this paper, we first introduce BI in healthcare and the current situation of BI coverage in HIT programs. We also report survey results on HIT students' perceptions of BI and how BI could be incorporated into HIT programs. We then propose a curriculum framework for delivering BI education in HIT programs. The paper discusses different implementation strategies that can potentially serve as a curriculum development reference.


Business intelligence is a broad term to describe a set of methods, processes, architectures, applications, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information to support business operation and growth (Cardin, 2007). It is used to enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational insights and decision-making. …

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