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CFO Series Part 2: Importance of Clinical Supply Data Accuracy in Move to the Cloud

Like many other industries, Healthcare IT increasingly is transitioning from onsite software and hardware deployments to a public or private cloud. As older clinical and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software programs face their end of life (EOL), meaning the vendor plans to sunset support for the program, hospitals and other healthcare organizations have the opportunity to evaluate and deploy new modern cloud-based platforms that are better suited to future needs. 

These IT migrations from on-premise to the cloud are complicated endeavors and involve many stakeholders and represent a major investment in new computer infrastructure, however, they also provide an opportunity to review the quality of an organization’s clinical supply data. Healthcare businesses contain a wealth of data, however, without proper data quality and management, that data creates more challenges than value. 

For the CFO, the financial and other benefits of quality clinical supply data is an important factor to take into consideration in the discussion around financing the six- to seven-figure budget for a cloud migration project. “Poor data quality” can appear as data that is inaccurate, incomplete or irrelevant, costing businesses money and time. 

In addition to the usual areas of focus in budgeting discussions for any major project such as what the ROI of a migration to the cloud is likely to be and how it will impact the company’s fiscal performance, CFOs should consider bringing the following question to the table: How can the cloud add strategic value? Clinical supply data quality affects the revenue cycle in a number of ways, from the bill only process, to physician level reporting and clinical integrations. A cloud infrastructure provides more flexibility for using that data than on-premise platforms.

For example, teams could more quickly develop or test new drugs, treatments or other services for quicker time-to market. If other systems, such as sales or customer relationship management (CRM)  are also in the cloud, how easily can the Healthcare cloud data be integrated with that cloud for increased analytics and insight into business operations? 

While a migration to the cloud provides an opportunity to evaluate clinical supply data and improve its quality, this type of activity typically falls outside of the cloud ERP vendor’s scope of work. Clinical supply data needs to be high quality to be effective, but data quality is not a strength of most cloud providers. Internal data analysis and business intelligence teams should be brought into these migration projects as early as possible to identify the key clinical supply data points that should be getting captured, and ensure that the data capture process is followed to the letter. 

The integration of a clinical database with finance and traditional ERP systems is central to running a data-driven organization, and the focus during any cloud migration should be to ensure the entire database does not become a huge, kludgy system, but remains an agile platform that retains the ability to quickly pull analysis and insight. 

Moving to the cloud can provide the CFO additional insight into the overall operations of the business. This role has traditionally had cross-functional visibility into the entire organization, and moving to the cloud provides easier access to the data CFOs need to properly forecast and make strategic decisions about the future of the organization. This access elevates the cloud migration beyond a simple IT or operations project, and positions the CFOs to identify, sponsor and drive new levels of clinical integration for the benefits of all stakeholders.