Improving Clinical Care with Healthcare Data Analytics

The volume and variety of data collected in healthcare is immense and continues to grow. It’s unrealistic to manage this data in soft or hard copy formats, which has led to digitizing all aspects of care.

Big data analytics offers a way for healthcare organizations to discover actionable insights, improve operations and enhance overall patient care. Data analytics has the capacity to capture, process, distribute and manage immense volumes of data to help identify variation in all aspects of care and better manage variation to streamline efficiencies, increase productivity and assist in the decision-making process.

Data analytics can also provide insight into physician performance. Although physicians are driven, motivated professionals, like every other employee, ongoing performance reports help to identify areas in need of improvement. Healthcare data analytics can provide insight into the delivery of care and help a physician identify best practices to further improve patient outcomes.

For example, between 350,000 and 650,000 people develop venous thromboembolism (VTE) annually, resulting in as many as 200,000 deaths each year.  VTE is highly preventable, if the proper medications are administered to patients with certain risk factors. In one study, researchers looked at more than 70,000 patients at 358 hospitals and found that less than 60% of the surgical patients and less than 40% of the hospitalized medical patients received appropriate prophylaxis or preventative care. And, of those receiving prophylaxis, only 50% were administered enough as defined by national guidelines.

It is often difficult for hospitals or physician groups to identify underperforming physicians.  This can be positively affected by leveraging data analytics to evaluate physician performance. Healthcare data analytics can provide an unbiased look into performance as physicians are reviewed against national benchmarks or their peers. The common denominator of the latter, is the aggregate performance of the entire group of physicians, and as such, variation can be more easily identified and thus, better managed.

Taking our example of VTE, let’s say 10 preventable blood clots are traced back to Physician A and only three clots on average are traced back to Physicians B, C and D. Through data analytics, you can learn if Physician A is underperforming compared to the three other physicians. Patient risk factors, patient volume, complicating factors and other variables would also be reviewed.

Data analytics can provide physicians objective scorecards to help improve performance. This allows underperforming physicians the ability to improve by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and monitoring improvement. Keys to improvement may include the results of continuing education to improve knowledge of evidence-based blood clot prevention strategies or perhaps developing reminders to prescribe prophylaxis in high-risk patients.  By tracking and monitoring KPIs, the hospital can change the behavior of physicians, and in turn, improve patient outcomes. In addition, by identifying variation, best practices can be developed and in doing so, the cost of patient care can be reduced. As the quality of care rises, the cost of care diminishes—a benefit for all.

Getting physicians on board can seem like an arduous prospect. More often than not, physicians will push back against the use of analytics. A common response from physicians is that the patient is special or their organization is unique. However, physicians want and need transparency, and data analytics provides the clarity that is often difficult to find. Physicians must understand that the data reflects their patient population and is therefore, representative and valid. Physicians need to know they can trust the data and its level of accuracy. Because a physician’s priority is the health and safety of their patients, providing objective and accurate data that helps improve outcomes will then gain support. Leveraging data sources and making incremental improvements helps physicians strengthen their confidence in the data and the process.

Physician commitment will deepen if leadership is positioned as a partner, not a judge. Perpetuating a culture of blame will taint the acceptance of analytics and will minimize its usefulness. Overall, no matter how well intentioned, team members that lack the support and engagement of the leadership team, may find it impossible to improve quality care initiatives and patient outcomes. Hospital leadership can act as a solidifying force by collaborating and listening to physicians concerns or questions. Demonstrating a commitment to quality improvement and using data analytics to achieve success will help create a culture of continuous improvement and engaged physicians.

The bottom line: Empowered and engaged physicians using data analytics can improve patient outcomes, help develop and deploy best practices, and reduce the cost of care. The ultimate benefit of physician engagement and data analytics is that both hospitals and physicians become aligned, improving care and financial performance as a united force.

Intrigued? See what healthcare analytics can do for you with a demo of Dynafios 4CAST data analytics. 4CAST is an easy-to-use and affordable healthcare analytics tool, pivotal to improving patient outcomes and reducing the cost of care. 4CAST aggregates vast amounts of patient-related health data to help leadership and physicians gain a deeper understanding of outcomes, and apply these insights at the point of care.  To take a spin of 4CAST, give us at call at 877.858.3282 or email us at info(at)dynafios.com.

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