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Healthcare providers are under pressure to integrate data across the entire continuum of care while improving workflow processes and enhancing patient care. However, providers can often find themselves held back by costly, inefficient IT and data-management systems.

Healthcare CIOs are increasingly turning to data-management applications to help them better handle the vast amounts of patient and compliance data stored on their systems. Data-management applications help healthcare organizations centralize IT processes and harness data for greater efficiency at a lower cost.

For example, Bristol Hospice leverages data-management applications to ensure its patients’ end-of-life decisions, particularly about care planning, are honored. The company is devoted to promoting the highest quality of care for patients and families, and relies on data-management applications for the efficiency, accuracy and insight needed to strive for such high-quality care goals.

The sheer power behind data-management applications helps healthcare organizations make educated decisions about the future. Business intelligence and reporting tools allow them to proactively monitor and produce data reports that help executives understand what is happening at various locations and identify what can be done to better support these locations. Reports are valuable assets that provide insights for remodeling programs or making minor adjustments to accommodate business changes. The right application can generate these reports quickly for critical decision making.

Particularly for geographically dispersed organizations, managing patient information, finances and healthcare compliance data across numerous locations can prove challenging. Bristol integrated applications across its locations in California, Utah, Georgia and Hawaii to create a cohesive healthcare practice. The reporting applications enable Bristol to make minor adjustments to accommodate the specific needs of various geographic locations.

The company also standardized its front-end dashboards with the appropriate tools for managing operational information and finances, and it has centralized the billing process for all locations through its Utah office. This has streamlined operations and communication across all key touch points of the business.

For example, every two weeks Bristol’s management team reviews reports focused on the productivity, referrals, admissions, census data, quality outcomes and finances of each individual location. Bristol can look at the operational reports to ensure it has proactive staffing in place and that it has the operational supports in place to service local communities.

The right data-management application will have the flexibility needed for an organization to quickly adapt and roll new regulations right into its operation. As an added bonus, this flexibility often affords organizations (including Bristol) the opportunity to easily interface and integrate with other products and systems as desired. Ultimately, automatic compliance updates, which would otherwise be done manually, give healthcare providers more time to spend with their patients – the real bottom line in healthcare.

When a medical facility is hit by a natural disaster, the consequences can be dire. That’s why many healthcare organizations rely on data-management applications to manage and safeguard critical information, such as a patient’s medical history or medication dosage.

Bristol’s Hawaii hospice center was hit by a tsunami in March 2011 that resulted from the earthquake in Japan. Bristol’s utilities went down, including the phone system, but its communication in and out of the state did not suffer. Because the company’s systems are centralized, executives were able to help monitor the situation remotely, keep in touch with the local staff via smartphones, receive updates on the condition of the patients and communicate with the affected families. The company’s disaster-recovery plan enabled its other locations to support the Hawaii hospice center from afar so that it remained fully operational during its most unexpected emergency.

The progressive nature of the application development is transforming healthcare practices into lean, productive medical wonders. Providers can now manage large amounts of patient data to deliver quality care from anywhere, at anytime, even during unexpected crises. As applications become more sophisticated over time, we can expect to see these providers uncover new innovative ways to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges.