Open letter to Information Week BI In Healthcare article readers

Boris Evelson By Boris Evelson

I am so glad that my Information Week article BI in Healthcare is receiving interest and mostly positive feedback. I believe that this is indeed a very important topic to write about, especially considering how behind the times the industry is, and what a unique opportunity we have right now to get it right. We so strongly believe that this is such a critical IT issue and challenge, that Forrester is even bending its own rules slightly – typically all our research is “role” based, not industry based, as we most often find that challenges and requirements by role are almost always very similar across industries. Healthcare and public sectors seem to be a big exception, and therefore, I and some of my colleagues do plan to publish more Healthcare IT specific research. For example, I am currently in the middle of surveying top 30+ BI vendors specializing in Healthcare against 40+ criteria. Stay tuned to the results of this research. And my colleague, Craig LeClair (, is in the midst of conducting research on EMR best practices.

I also welcome the opportunity to respond to the ANON1250257151313 comments that our research is “vendor sponsored”, that we recommend “BI-as-a-fix”, and that we are “far from the real world”, as follows:

  • Forrester Research is an independent research organization that does not do ANY vendor sponsored research. In my personal situation, major BI vendors are always my biggest critics. Just take a look at any of my ( or any other relevant Forrester research and you will find that it’s almost always about best practices and actionable advice to our readers – IT practitioners – which very often includes vendor criticism.
  • By no means am I recommending “BI-as-a-fix”, but BI can be very effectively used as a tool to diagnose the problems, analyze root causes and play an important role in creating comprehensive solutions. You’ve got to start somewhere, and BI is a perfect starting point.
  • Most of Forrester analysts, including myself, spent most of their careers as hands-on-practitioners. Specifically, I was a hands on programmer, team leader, consultant, project manager and consulting practice manager for 25 years before I joined Forrester. Again, please take a look at our research, and you will see that it is not typical “sitting-in-my-ivory-tower-criticizing-everyone” research. It’s always very practical and actionable.

I love and welcome this challenge, Mr or Ms ANON1250257151313, so please write to and let’s keep the dialog going! I also welcome all of the other IW readers to email me directly with any Healthcare BI research requests.


Healthcare use case


I just found this -- sorry. You might be interested in our use case scenario on health care -- I selected a diabetes case to demonstrate the impact of enterprise semantics, with some specific focus on Kyield, although it's largely focused on generic improvements, direction, and recent regulatory issues.

Response has been excellent-- but still amazed at the culture in health care relative to organizational IT systems. Even with enormous psychological incentives for improving lives, generous financial incentives in stimulus, and reform regulation that will require adoption, it will still be very heavy lifting I fear across most of the ecosystem. .02-- MM

re: Open letter to Information Week BI In Healthcare article re

Well, I've not worked in healthcare for 25 years, only about half that much time. Nevertheless I have formed some opinions on the matter.I think you've made a number of correct assertions. What is remarkable to me is just how many healthcare applications that are based upon antiquated technology--really, profoundly out of date. Some are good, but the core HIS systems seem to have survived like dinosaurs in the modern age; things out of time and place.Why has this happened? What allows these systems to survive and even thrive?My theory is that clinical systems are driven by clinical people and clinical needs. This would seem to be entirely right and appropriate. All the best practices, including those outside healthcare, say this is the way things ought to be.Unfortunately most clinical people do not have strong Information Technology backgrounds. They often do not understand that IT has moved forward and the world has changed. Therefore, when they sacrifice fundamental systems characteristics on the altar of clinical functionality, they do so not understanding the long-term tradeoffs involved. Even if they say they do!This is important. IT in most industries now assumes that openness and interconnectedness are part of the deal. It's a given. In healthcare, it's treated as, "well, we don't have an interface, and there's no way to do it yourself, but there's a consultant who's good and does that kind of work. Let me get you that contact information...".In short, the HIS vendors have successfully sold the idea that the technology doesn't matter. This is an appealing argument to clinicians, who often aren't interested in the technology anyways. And yet I'm still stuck with an unanswered question. Why has this NOT worked in every other industry besides healthcare?

re: Open letter to Information Week BI In Healthcare article re

Brian, I agree with your comment. Most IT systems I've encountered in medical environments are extremely antiquated. Further, IT seems like a technical backwater compared with the medical practitioners' interest in the latest medical diagnostic equipment, CAT scanners and so forth. I don't know why this IT malaise has happened in the medical industry, but it certainly has been my firsthand experience.Further, as an individual who has been seeing multiple doctors and specialists over the past 3 years, I've found that sharing medical records is close to impossible. If you do get drs to share medical records, it's through some archaic fax system or photocopies that you personally have to hand carry to the other physicians. I admit it: I have the same test done over and over again because it's just too darn hard to get one lab test sent to a bunch of doctors at the same time. I don't understand why this is the case, but it certainly is the state of affairs in the medical world. The good news is that there is huge upside from a benefits/ROI point of view once the medical industry sees the light and decides to go for automation in a big and modern way.