What does the new healthcare landscape look like? “Nobody knows, but it’s going to be a mess,” said Tripp Jennings, chief value and informatics officer at Palmetto Health. That was the headline last week out of the Pop Health Forum 2017 in Boston in early April. It’s also the directive for any healthcare executive wondering what on earth is going to come down the pike next. The message from Pop Health is get your affairs in order; clean up and improve the use of healthcare data analytics, improve patient access to decrease acuity and avoid downstream inflated costs, and develop innovative incentives so patients will seek out preventative care.
Maximize what data can tell you
When it comes to data analytics in the healthcare space, the name of the game is maximizing what it can tell you. In so doing you can cut down on administrative costs, improve clinical decision support and improve patient wellness. As hospitals make analytics work smarter and harder, it can reduce administrative tasks, and make decisions smarter and more predictive. If you ensure that ICD codes are correct, it cuts administrative costs for appeals and improves reimbursements simultaneously.
Clean data improves patient access
On the clinical side, a streamlined data dashboard can improve clinical decision support by providing accurate patient information quickly. Patient data in one place can improve diagnosis and decrease medical errors like prescribing contraindicated medications.
Data can also help hospitals increase patient access to care – the number one strategy to reduce costs. If patients are encouraged to keep up with preventive screenings and make healthy lifestyle choices they remain healthier, reducing hospital days, readmissions and emergency room use. That reduces costs for the healthcare system as a whole.
In fact, Kaiser Permanente in Colorado has made patient wellness a priority. For years they have been working to manage population health by improving and managing the health of each individual. And that brings us back to the Pop Health Forum in Boston. Two executives from the Kaiser program spoke at the forum and said that they have been able to achieve success by evolving a “ relatively simple chronic disease management program into a tightly coordinated, team-based, and heavily IT-led strategy.” They have found a way to create a system that is able to communicate individual patient’s specific needs to care teams “who make broad use of EHR and other data to ensure optimal care for each patient.” Kaiser found that the key is to use all available data to have a “full picture view of the individual.”
Data silos contradict value based care
One of the biggest challenges for healthcare systems is that data lives in silos and that certainly does not promote its optimal use. Specialists want data aligned with their specialties. Critical care departments want data customized to them. However, the most highly efficient data is held in shared systems that all specialties and departments can access. A successful system has central priorities that address the entire organization. Data can deliver critical insights, but to do so it has to be built for the entire playing field. That takes leadership and buy-in from both the administrative and clinical sides of the house who realize that using data to increase revenue is the ultimate goal.
We’re not six months into the year and already we are seeing clear cut themes emerging in the healthcare discussion; the importance of increasing patient access to improve preventive care and decrease costs, the critical role of healthcare data analytics and analysis to improve reimbursements and revenue, and the fact that value based care is the only way to get the entire ship moving in the right direction.