The pioneers at Northern Ohio Medical Specialists are taking a fresh approach to information technology, data, and analytics
For more than two decades, Northern Ohio Medical Specialists Healthcare (NOMS) has parlayed its patient-centered mindset and team-based approaches to care into one of the leading multi-specialty independent physician groups in the Northeast. The physician-owned and -led enterprise has existed on the forward edge of clinical care and technology since its inception, investing extensively in cutting edge technologies to support their philosophy of care.
“We strongly, strongly, strongly believe that a patient-provider relationship, backed by a robust amount of infrastructure and analytics, takes NOMS to the next level.” That’s what CEO Joshua Frederick told us in 2018. Since then, they’ve experienced consistent growth, doubling in size in the past 12 months alone. With plans to triple their size over the next two years, recent investments in data science, analytics, and IT healthcare infrastructure will enable them to provide a truly unique patient care experience.
“We strive to be entirely patient-centered with the ability to send each patient to the highest quality provider and location at the best cost,” said Justin Coran, PhD, MPH, the company’s chief data science and analytics officer (CDAO). “NOMS will care for that patient throughout their entire care journey regardless of where they want to receive parts of their care.”
Broadly speaking, data science converts raw data into actionable insights through a mastery of subject matter knowledge, statistics and mathematics, and computer science. In healthcare, highly specialized, actionable business intelligence derived from applying data science is drawn from the patient, provider, and administrative sides of the operation.
“The role of data scientists in healthcare is to lead the organization in the use of clinical, financial, and administrative data,” he explained. The overall objective for NOMS and data science and analytics is to continually evolve their systems, processes, and technologies to improve healthcare delivery while lowering healthcare costs.
“The true value-based equation is higher quality for the patient, better patient satisfaction, lower costs for the patient, and better ROI for the company,” Coran stressed. “If they can achieve all of those, that data scientist is very successful in their role.”
Creating an environment where data scientists can partner with physicians to enhance their diagnostic and prognostic abilities is a rarity in non-hospital-based healthcare systems and fits right in with NOMS' mission to continually optimize patient care. “It's so exciting that you can make that kind of an impact with a patient without necessarily going to medical school,” he said. “It will absolutely be the future of where we’re going both in data science and healthcare.”
An adjunct professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the first CDAO in any organization of its kind in Ohio, Coran is leading NOMS through an extensive analytic maturity growth model. He joined the organization last June to develop a full enterprise data warehouse (EDW) to make sense of all the disparate and siloed data streams that occur within their system. In doing so, NOMS will be able to use data to improve patient engagement and clinical outcomes.
The three-layer EDW is composed of a layer of raw data emanating from their electronic medical records (EMR), their existing scheduling system, and third-party vendors. The second layer of the warehouse becomes data domains, which are defined by a value-based data model that enables information to be accessed strategically and quickly.
The third layer, data marts, drives analytic operations such as AI, predictive models, and machine learning to extract refined insights from that data. “All of that’s happening within the data engineering and data science product development occurring in our EDW,” Coran noted. Data is warehoused in Microsoft Azure’s cloud-based environment, and data engineering and statistical modeling is being conducted with Alteryx’s product ecosystem in addition to SQL operations.
Specialized artificial intelligence software for primary care encounters from Navina will enable clinicians to provide rapid assessments and proactive care. “We also have an AI engine in our EDW that’s able to take PDFs and images, lab tests, and any reports with unstructured or image-based data that come from outside companies, aggregate them together, and put the structure into our EMR and EDW systems,” Coran said. “Our EMR vendor can’t do something like that, so we created an analytics engine to solve that challenge and make our process more efficient.”
Coran credits the company’s open communication and transparency for making their approach to data and analytics so successful. “Even before I was hired our CEO was talking about this function, setting the stage for what was coming and setting the expectations for everyone in every part and level of the organization. That was critical for me to be successful in my position.”
The way we work today has also had a positive impact on acquiring data science and analytics talent. Staff in Coran’s division have the option to do their jobs from home, which opens a greater pipeline of experts in data science, analytics, and data engineering from coast to coast. “That’s huge as far as leading on the edge of innovation. We can pull the best and brightest from everywhere and not have to force them to relocate,” he said.
The organization’s relationship with Case Western is also an asset in nurturing and eventually hiring the next generation of brilliance, partnering with NOMS on an applied data science internship. “There aren’t many healthcare organizations that have applied data science programs that are linked to a university,” he said. Clinicians in Case Western’s prestigious PhD and MD programs work with applied data science alongside the doctors.
“That provides NOMS with an opportunity to always have new ideas annually so we can stay on the cutting edge. It’s not restricted to my ideas or those of someone on my team. We’ll get new, fresh ideas even as they’re coming up in a college and university environment,” he added.
As the first healthcare CDAO in the region, Coran expects a rise in C-suite data and analytics positions at systems everywhere gaining wider prominence. “Data science is in its infancy, and I think over the next five years you’ll see an explosion of the CDAO role,” he said. “It’s one of the leading new executive roles that we’re going to see in healthcare going forward.”
Northern Ohio Medical Specialists (NOMS) Healthcare is a multi-specialty physician group with over 200 providers, 31 specialties, 21 cities in Northern Ohio and growing.
NOMS Healthcare is committed to superior patient satisfaction, and we welcome your comments and feedback on our services.
Our goal is to continually improve our scope and depth of service based on the ever-changing needs of our patients. NOMS is also committed to taking an active role in the betterment of our community, particularly related to healthcare matters affecting our fellow citizens.
We develop and support health care practices recognized for exceeding patient expectations, thereby setting the standard for excellence in Northern Ohio.
2500 Hayes Ave.
Sandusky, OH 44870