As a rural hospital with multiple clinics, we are always looking for innovative ways to deliver actionable data that drives operational efficiency and improves patient outcomes. By harnessing the power of analytics, it becomes easier for all levels of leadership to gauge progress toward organizational goals and make more informed decisions.
But for hospitals with limited resources, it can be challenging to develop an agile, comprehensive analytics strategy. While every organization has different tools and staffing structures, there are universal steps to take in the effort to make the most of your data.
Developing a data strategy
Managing the flow of healthcare data is vital in order to increase care quality. At Palo Pinto General Hospital, we underwent a relaunch of our analytic processes as part of an organizational quality project. In the past, we found that staff members without proper training relied on workarounds, resulting in the discovery of many inconsistencies when going through data cleanup. This emphasized the need to develop a data strategy that helped us understand where our data lives and how it is stored.
Leveraging an interactive visualization tool is one of the best ways of achieving a single source of truth for both clinical and operational data. Using a centralized business intelligence solution, rather than relying on manual processes or disparate third party tools, empowers users to validate data and ensure that reporting views are consistent. It is especially helpful when these tools don’t require users to have SQL experience or the need for a data repository specialist.
Identify target audience and define needs
Once you have an analytics framework in place, the next step is to identify target audiences that will be utilizing a variety of data sets. However, sometimes your audience finds you! At Palo Pinto, we initially planned on delivering dashboards to our administration group, but our ambulatory team ended up seeking us out because they were craving data. As a small rural clinic, we are frequently examining our referrals. Using our analytics solution has helped the ambulatory group visualize referral data without having to create new reports, improving continuity of care. Our senior leadership uses this information annually to see where to focus physician recruitment efforts.
While it is great to have internal enthusiasm around data, more often than not your peers won’t know exactly what data they need until you give it to them. Collaborating with different departments has made it easier for us to develop customized dashboards that uncover insights in key areas such as census occupancy, ED volume, surgery cases and revenue. ITs data expertise merged with the business unit knowledge of process and workflow makes information more actionable and drives operational efficiency.
Determine how to best deliver data
Data doesn’t become powerful until it’s in the hands of end users. Once we set up automatic daily emails to go out to executives (showcasing operational trends), we experienced an immediate increase in engagement. Operational huddle meetings became more productive, and gauging business performance is now a more efficient process because our tools are flexible and populate in real time. We now tailor reporting libraries to individual staff member needs and utilize them during training for new hires.
Here are a few examples of how dashboards and libraries are answering key questions at Palo Pinto:
- Provider Membership Growth: We are measuring provider productivity and viewing clinic growth based on membership (with the ability to focus on providers who aren’t taking new patients vs. ones who are)
- Infection Control: Our Infection Control team has easy access to reports that are provided to the state, making it easier to keep up with CMS guidelines
- Quality Training: Many of our reporting requests come from the quality department, who use curated dashboards to perform in-depth analysis on relevant data
Leveraging predictive analytics
Leveraging predictive analytics is becoming increasingly important in order to automatically identify patients who need attention. Utilizing surveillance status boards and watchlists for our sepsis program has been essential for providers so they know when patients are flagged for sepsis or potential sepsis. We’ve also used these toolsets to identify high risk opioid patients, which our pharmacy team monitors on a daily basis. Real-time, high-level views of patient profiles that fit smoothly into clinical workflows help care teams take action sooner and avoid adverse outcomes.
At Palo Pinto, we went from having an analytics tool sitting on the shelf to using it on a daily basis. Having flexibility and control over how data is presented is important in achieving organizational buy-in. Once you have the right information that is ready to be shared clearly and consistently, the key is finding whoever is hungry for data because once you get started, they will want more.
Learn how MEDITECH's Business and Clinical Analytics solution delivers actionable data that drives operational efficiency, maximizes financial performance, and improves patient outcomes.