BLOGUse Data Analytics Tools to Improve Outcomes
JOHN O’KEEFE | April 10, 2018
Use Data Analytics Tools to Improve Outcomes
Last month, I wrote about one of the major themes of HIMSS18: How healthcare providers can safeguard against cybersecurity threats. Another hot topic at this year’s conference was the growing importance of analytics, and new solutions that help providers mine data to make better decisions and improve outcomes.
I talk a lot about the need to continually optimize EHR/PM solutions to maximize success. The same is true for revenue cycle and patient care optimization, and data analytics is the right way to accomplish it. This is particularly important as we move to value-based care models, where providers are paid based upon quality – not quantity – of care delivered.
Ten or fifteen years ago, data analytics would have been inconceivable to a small or medium-sized practice. Most data were siloed and inaccessible – jotted down in paper charts or entered by hand in homegrown systems that didn’t talk to each other. Today, practices possess troves of meaningful digitized data but aren’t using it to be more successful. Why not? In most cases, they aren’t sure what to measure and they simply don’t have the tools to do it.
Which Metrics Matter
With any new project, the biggest question is where to start. When I talk to practices about developing an analytics strategy, I recommend focusing on industry-standard key performance indicators (KPIs) that will have the most impact on revenue and patient outcomes.
Revenue Cycle Metrics
Revenue cycle efficiency will make or break any practice. That’s why you should constantly monitor revenue cycle performance and share the data with staff. This will help the team understand where improvements are needed, and how results are changing over time. Top KPIs to watch include:
- Days to bill
- A/R over 90 days
- Net days in A/R
- Cash collections as a percent of net revenue
Another important metric is the cost to collect revenue. Many practices bring collections in-house and get excited about the results. But, the reality is that higher costs are offsetting any revenue improvements. A good benchmark is to spend between 3-6% of revenues on collections activities.
With Meaningful Use in the rear mirror, practices have a wealth of powerful clinical data in the EHR that can provide valuable insights to improve patient care and outcomes. Just like revenue cycle data, the key is to select a few meaningful metrics and regularly analyze them to identify and prioritize areas for improvement. Common patient care metrics in ambulatory practices include:
- Medication errors
- Surgical site infections
- Rate of complications
- Patient follow-up
While it’s not technically a ‘clinical’ metric, another important one to measure is the staff-to-patient ratio, which can affect the quality of patient care and outcomes.
Analytics Tools are Within Reach
Practices have more data and established metrics at their disposal than ever before. And they aren’t reluctant to use the data to understand and improve their business. What they lack are tools and resources to effectively gather, analyze and report it. This is like having a fast car parked in the garage gathering dust while you’re still walking everywhere. It’s a tremendous asset that’s not being used for the full benefits it offers.
ITelagen is responding to this important customer need by partnering with an organization that offers easy-to-use data analytics tools, all with the goal of improving visibility, decision-making and outcomes. These new tools supply key clinical and financial insights, and help you keep your teams informed and accountable for results.
Adopting a well-planned analytics strategy is one of the most important things your practice can do for greater success in 2018, and ITelagen has a portfolio of tools and expertise to help you. Contact us to learn more.