3 ways UPS mops up your healthcare data management


I am a fan of the podcast Planet Money. Now, I am not an economist and typically find the topic dry as toast, but I am continually surprised and entertained by the short, 15-minute podcasts. In fact, a show from last year has stuck with me as I visit healthcare payers around the country.

In May, the Planet Money team did a broadcast called, “The Future of Work Looks Like a UPS Truck.” It was great reporting and very thought-provoking. It also caused me to reflect on how healthcare companies compare to UPS.

Here are three quotes from the podcast that really grabbed my attention and made me wonder about the state of the healthcare industry:

1. “The data is about as important as the package for us.”
– Jack Levis, senior director of process management, UPS

Really? Yes! Amazing, right?

“Just one minute per driver per day over the course of a year adds up to $14,500,000 dollars,” said Levis. “One keystroke per driver per day is about $100,000 per year. One minute of idle per driver per day is worth about $500,000 of fuel at the end of the year.”

To me, this really drives home the fact that if the data is as important as the package for UPS, what about healthcare data? Are we tracking all the data that affects the patient? The doctor? Transactions in each payer process? Of course, the patient’s health will always be paramount; however, are we ignoring data that may serve a patient’s health in the future? Are we failing to capture and analyze cost data such that we understand the cost of one keystroke per specialist per day?

There is data dripping off of every healthcare dollar and it seems like no one has a mop. But to me, that’s a conscious choice.

2. “UPS was trucking company. Today it’s a technology company.”
– Jack Levis, senior director of process management, UPS

This quote set my head spinning. When it stopped, I started nodding and thought, YES! Healthcare is in the same spot! Just think of all the technology utilized in both provider and payer processes. Of course, we are all still in the healthcare business (just as UPS is still in the trucking business), but our success is critically intertwined with technology. Perhaps it is not too far a stretch to say that we too are really in the technology business, just like UPS.

Most of the healthcare industry still has not got the news that we are now in the data business. Don’t get me wrong, healthcare’s core mission is still to make people well. Data, however, is at the heart of how we can improve the way we work and help more people get better, in faster and more cost-effective ways. The rise of genomic medicine will only drive data’s central role in wellness, disease management and other aspects of our health.

I am a big fan of WGMGD – What Gets Measured Gets Done. If you are being honest, you have to ask: How much data do we really have at our fingertips about the actions we take and the dollars we spend to make people well?

Frankly, not much.

Health plans, Medicare Advantage plans, CMS – you’re technology companies. Period. Time to come to grips with that and start capturing all the data through the entire process (both payers and providers). This may be the only way to bend healthcare cost and quality curves in the right direction.

3. “When we are in the UPS truck, we are surrounded by hundreds of tiny sensors. They know if we’re wearing our seatbelts, the speed that we are traveling at and whether the door is open or closed.”
– Bill Earl, driver, UPS

I am in the healthcare process business. People have been telling me for 20 years, “We can’t really measure this or that because it’s on paper or people don’t currently measure it.” I say that if UPS can dominate the shipping marketplace by shaving off keystrokes per year, so can we. And it all starts with lessening our dependence on paper.

As I reflect on the podcast and the experience with customers, I keep thinking about healthcare, providers, payers, CMS and processes like Appeals & Grievances and how far we have to go. What if Levis worked for CMS? What would he be saying?

I think he would be saying that we need to get a mop and start cleaning up some of this data. What do you think?

Mike Hurley

Mike Hurley

Mike Hurley is the industry manager for Health Insurance at Hyland, helping health insurance organizations transform business processes that drive value for members, providers and employees. Mike works with current... read more about: Mike Hurley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.