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4 Ways Data Can Improve Patient Outcomes and Your Bottom Line

June 24, 2015

The quality of care and patient outcomes have always been a priority for healthcare providers, but with an industry shift to result-based reimbursement, providers are now more focused than ever on improving processes that affect patient outcome. Many practices find success with data analytics, but the sheer amount of data available (big data) can be more overwhelming than helpful. The following four applications will help you take control of your data and put it to use to improve your outcomes and your bottom line.

Implement Dashboards
The creation of the Value-Based Reimbursement program by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) makes patient experience a top priority. Through this program, patient experience is tied directly to the provider’s incentive payment structure. One way to improve the patient experience is to improve patient movement through the hospital system. Delays and inefficient handoffs are sometimes the most tangible aspect of a patient’s visit, and patients will often perceive their quality of care to be substandard based on these experiences. By arming doctors and hospital staff with secure, authenticated access to patient information, leading hospitals like Johns Hopkins and Seattle Children’s Hospital are streamlining the movement of patients through the hospital system.

This is where dashboards come in. Dashboards aggregate real-time data from multiple sources to create intuitive, easy-to-understand visuals to help doctors, nurses and other hospital staff make effective and efficient decisions. Unique profiles can be set-up to manage dashboard views based on the user’s role within the organization while also managing appropriate access to private health information (PHI).

Focus the Organization on Outcomes
CMS also created the Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) program.  Hospitals participating in this program face rising baseline standards and additional quality measures, and nearly half of these hospitals also face reduced reimbursement. These factors put pressure on providers to focus on these quality measures, but shifting the focus of an entire practice is easier said than done. Overworked caregivers already struggle to keep up with mounting paperwork and overwhelming amounts of confusing data, ending up with a workforce unable or unwilling to buy-in to this new strategy.

To overcome these challenges, choose a standardized business intelligence solution that leverages the power of data visualization. Like dashboards, your business intelligence solution should convert meaningful data into charts, graphs or other images that stakeholders across the hospital can understand. By providing easy to use systems, hospital staff can focus on the patient outcome and improve overall standing with CMS.

Patient-Centric Care
The healthcare industry has shifted from a focus on the quantity of services provided to the quality of services provided. With patient-centric care, a provider does not prescribe to a fixed set of guidelines. Instead, the needs of the patient are put first. Patient records, health information, procedure costs and practitioner data flows among all parties involved, including providers, physician practices, clinics and labs and payers.  Pertinent information is always available at the point of care. Using a patient-centric care plan in conjunction with dashboards and a business intelligence solution can help coordinate care, reduce costs and improve outcomes.

Social Medicine
Not long ago the idea of medical professionals interacting with patients and non-patients in a public forum was unheard of. Times have changed and now patients expect to communicate with their care providers on social platforms of their choice. A 2012 report found that nearly one-third of adults surveyed turned to social media for health conversations. While protected health information (PHI) is strictly forbidden, providers have found social media to be particularly useful in behavioral health applications like encouraging healthy diet and exercise habits. Facebook and Twitter are the obvious choices, but make sure to also monitoring influential, but less obvious networks like Yelp, Foursquare and Wikipedia.

As the healthcare industry shifts towards a result-based reimbursement structure, providers are focusing on leveraging data to improve patient outcomes. The four topics discussed can be used together or separately, but there are a couple things to consider before implementing any of these practices. First, make sure you’re are setting a realistic goal. Prioritize which goals you are going to take action on and choose a measurable metric that is easily trackable. Second, if you already have an ERM or business intelligence system in place, make sure you are using it to its full potential. Contact your systems vendor for personalized training on analytic capabilities and reporting options. Take control of your data and take advantage of its potential.