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Getting the most from an analytics solution

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  By Matthew S. Seefeld, Senior Vice President of Solution Strategy, Streamline Health,  March 31, 2014

Matt Seefeld, Senior Vice President, Solution Strategy, Streamline Health

Big data refers to the volume and variety of information being generated and the speed at which it is being moved in and out of systems. In the hospital setting, massive amounts of clinical, financial and operational information are generated with every transaction, interaction and observation between caregivers and patients, payers, and employers. Each piece of information created has the potential to improve decision making in new and innovative ways. But accessing that data is often a challenge, since much of it is fragmented, locked in silos and disparate systems, preventing departments from being able to effectively interpret and collaborate on the information in a meaningful way. 

In today’s healthcare market, the ability to analyze, understand and act on that real-time information is more important than ever. An analytics solution offers organizations the means to integrate and manage large volumes and collections of structured and unstructured data and content. By tying together information and linking it to outcomes, analytics tell an organization where it has been, where it stands today and, most importantly, where it is headed in the future.

Integrated Performance

As healthcare organizations face increasing competition, with declining reimbursements as well as increasing regulatory and consumer pressure to demonstrate better outcomes at an acceptable price point, an analytics solution is essential for improving clinical care, streamlining operations and improving the bottom line. Moreover, because these three areas are interdependent, benefits delivered to one area of the enterprise impacts all the other areas.

Clinical

Clinical analytics solutions help to keep costs contained but quality outcomes high. They can quantify everything from patient outcomes and readmissions to emergency department visits, wait times, and utilization of high-cost treatments and services. In addition to setting internal benchmarks to measure performance, clinical analytics can also allow the organization to compare how well a facility “stacks up” against its competitors, and then use that information to drive behavioral change. This information, in turn, assists providers with payer contracting to earn higher levels of reimbursement in addition to reducing denials, directly impacting an organization’s net revenue.

Financial

Business analytics solutions provide real-time snapshots of the organization’s true financial performance. Instant access to all current, historic, and transaction-level data makes it possible to build successful processes around areas of opportunity, and to conduct in-depth root-cause analyses. These analytics enables healthcare providers to track and manage the complex denial processes, know how much cash is on hand, and help leadership determine where to make investments to continue to improve financial performance and operational efficiency.

Operational

Likewise, the combination of financial data with quality clinical data enables providers to make more informed operational decisions, directly impacting their business. Operational analytics solutions enable enterprises to drill down to the individual department, clinician, and staff managing the complex revenue cycle to optimize the utilization of resources. These solutions also evaluate patient satisfaction scores and referrals to better understand how they compare to competitors and determine how to operate more efficiently and market that more effectively to potential new patients. Operational analytics can help optimize resources based on demand, and improve resource planning and utilization across the enterprise, from the efficient use of facilities, testing rooms, and patient beds, to scheduling equipment and patient tests.

The ability to link clinical with financial, operational and demographic data enables hospital leaders to understand trends in real time, as well as see how individual factors impact outcomes. Analytics allow healthcare providers to gain visibility across functions affecting cash flow, net cash and bad debt whileimproving processes for patient admissions, claims administration and denial management.

Tips for Leveraging Analytics Solutions 

1. Collaborate and share across departments.

Many healthcare organizations have massive amounts of valuable information that are confined by the limitations of stand-alone data systems and that cannot be easily accessed or shared. An analytics solution should have the ability to combine data from disparate systems and from the siloed departments within those systems. Users across departments should be able to easily collaborate, perform advanced data mining and opportunity analysis, drill down to transaction-level data, send instant alerts to a variety of mobile devices, and save and share the data online.

2. Capture data in the right format.

As much as 80% of healthcare data is unstructured, whether it's in paper format, medical images or free-form fields that need to be manually abstracted. This content is a valuable source of information for providers for creating a complete patient record. To get the most out of an analytics solution, combine it with an enterprise content management system that can capture and process external content and easily integration it into the EHR. By funneling this information into a business intelligence solution for analyzing and reporting on the data, healthcare providers are able to make faster, more informed decisions.

3. Improve performance by combining with other solutions.

Analytics solutions should be able to help healthcare providers deal with the surmounting regulatory changes in the industry, such as ICD-10, Affordable Care Act, and Meaningful Use. Analytics track and measure data from coding and key performance indicators (KPIs) across the healthcare enterprise to determine whether or not achievements that trigger payments have occurred. When combined with dual coding, clinical documentation improvement (CDI) and enterprise content management (ECM) solutions, analytics minimize the financial impact of industry changes and enable regulatory compliance.

Healthcare organizations must be agile and prepared to adapt in this environment of rapid change, heavy regulations and continual reform that only promises to get more complex over the coming years. Ultimately, analytics solutions provide the means to make sense of the volume, velocity, and variety of data, both structured and unstructured, inundating healthcare providers today. A flexible and agile analytics solution enables healthcare providers and health systems to make informed and actionable business decisions with on-demand information that can be easily viewed, analyzed, and shared across the enterprise. 


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