The Potential of Microsoft Power BI - Cover

The Potential of Microsoft Power BI

Just two years ago, Microsoft Power BI was barely coming up in KLAS data. Providers were a little unsure of how and where the product could even work for them. Fast forward to late 2019, and we are starting to see some major shifts for this solution. KLAS is seeing more and more sites move forward with Power BI with more excitement in the industry than we have seen in a long time. I would like to share with you some of the things that we are hearing from the industry about Power BI.

Cloud Considerations with Microsoft

Some of the excitement for Power BI is being driven as more healthcare organizations consider moving to the cloud, specifically for its benefits of data storage and for bringing patient and claims data together. Payers and providers are also working to bring in external data collected by other departments (outside of claims and patient data) to help break down siloed departments. Most of us are already aware of the immense storage and powerful computing benefits that the cloud offers. As more healthcare organizations consider the cloud, they also consider their other options, among them Power BI.

From what providers tell us, much of Power BI is often either embedded into or bundled with Microsoft Azure, the popular Microsoft cloud platform. While Power BI is a standalone product, it becomes even more powerful when it is integrated with Azure. Azure links in as the back-end database and cloud storage, and then Power BI comes in to perform the powerful front-end analytics.

Even if a provider has no interest in moving to the cloud, Microsoft has worked hard to develop their product over the last two years. From the look and the feel to the numerous capabilities of the product and how it really brings the data to life, providers are sharing lot of excitement around the user-friendly functionality of Power BI.

Consolidating and Breaking Down Silos 

One of the focus areas for the BI world is consolidation. Providers are always looking for vendors that can offer multiple tools so they do not have to use two different tools for analytics or back-end data management. When it comes to consolidating, Microsoft has a lot of potential to possibly break down silos with its functionality within Azure and Power BI. The tools include data management capabilities, data storage capabilities, dashboards, analytics, predictive analyses, AI capabilities, and self-service reporting capabilities. This means that, rather than using multiple vendors for these various pieces, providers can have an already bundled, interconnected service with Microsoft that is likely cheaper than what others offer.

Microsoft looks like it can be the vendor that brings all the tools, people, and data together to drive outcomes. After all, if you can consolidate tools and get departments interconnected, more outcomes can be derived from that. As providers and health organizations start condensing tools, bringing data together, and breaking down those silos within different departments, they can start to work together more closely on data. Organizations can make better decisions because everybody can see the data that they are responsible for. But we still need to ask, is Microsoft Power BI ready to take on the monumental task of consolidation?

Concerns and Potential to Grow

The benefits of Power BI seem pretty clear. However, some providers have shared with KLAS a concern about Microsoft’s governance around report creation and access to the data from within Power BI. Multiple people within an organization can create reports or access data, which means that different versions of a report can sometimes float around as truth. For this reason, these providers are concerned about pushing Power BI out to a wider market.

Another caveat revealed by our conversations with providers at over 20 unique organizations, is that Power BI does not currently have many organizations adopting it on an enterprise-wide basis. The product has only been rolled out to small groups and test groups within healthcare organizations. Most organizations using Power BI have broad, shallow deployments; some actually have narrow and deep deployments (for example, some organizations have everyone in finance using the solution). Most organizations that I have spoken with have deployed Power BI on their operational and financial side rather than the clinical. One reason for this is that the clinical side of a healthcare organization is the lifeblood of the organization for patient records and other data, so providers are often more hesitant to start something new there. The pockets of people using Power BI are smaller than the groups for other solutions on the market, but the feedback we are getting from those small pockets is still pretty good. From what KLAS is hearing, Microsoft is capable of breaking down those silos and driving outcomes, and they are likely to continue to grow because of the benefits they offer.

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