Revenue Cycle Management Solutions: 5 Benefits of Healthcare Analytics

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Revenue Cycle Management Solutions: 5 Benefits of Healthcare Analytics

Posted on Thu, Jun 16, 2016

With the healthcare Internet of Things gaining steam and the amount of healthcare data multiplying every day, hospitals and healthcare systems need to find effective and efficient ways to manage and use all of their patient data. It’s one thing to use data for a singular purpose: to deliver care. But when an organization initiates additional uses for all of that data, it’s important to develop a strategy and specific targets.

A key target outcome for healthcare analytics data is to improve revenue cycle management. The opportunity for this is significant — in fact, the New England Healthcare Institute estimates that $700 billion in revenue is lost annually the by US healthcare industry due to waste and inefficiency (source), including:

  • $290 billion from patient medication adherence
  • $179 billion due to unexplained variations in care
  • $137 billion because of medication misuse and errors

However, a KPMG survey of healthcare facilities found that only 10 percent of healthcare professionals use advanced data analytics tools with both analytic and predictive capabilities. Compounding the challenge, 80 percent of medical data is unstructured, and held in content such as emails, physician notes, lab results and discharge summaries, according to IBM.

So how can healthcare organizations begin to organize their vast data resources, and use analytics to make real, lasting impacts on their revenue cycle?

While massive data analytics programs may be feasible for a select few organizations, the reality is that smaller, more discrete projects that use analytics will make the competitive difference for the majority of healthcare organizations. The key will be to synthesize raw clinical and financial data into clearly defined opportunities to improve performance, care, and the bottom line.

Several of these opportunities to utilize healthcare analytics include:

  1. Finding and Reducing Inefficiencies

By identifying the data and trends related to inefficiencies in your facility, you can understand what is causing those inefficiencies and establish a solution to resolve them. This may relate to staff scheduling, poor wayfinding, indirect or ineffective communications, scheduling inaccuracies or delays, time spent on registration, or many other factors. Each facility is unique and will have its own opportunities. Find them, and you are one big step closer to making a positive impact on your revenue cycle.

  1. Reducing Unnecessary ER Visits

By identifying patients that have repeat visits to the ER in a single year, due to chronic illness or other conditions, and collaborating with their primary care physicians to ensure that they receive regular preventative care, the number of unnecessary ER visits can be reduced. The results are lower overall healthcare costs and reduced hospital admissions. A win-win for hospitals and patients.

  1. Eliminating Unnecessary Testing

Using healthcare analytics to assess the outcomes of specific costly tests, it is possible to identify situations in which the tests are not needed. Perhaps a precautionary test that is part of a standard procedure for diagnosing a specific condition hasn’t had a single positive result over the past 5 years. That data could make it easy to remove the costly test from that diagnostic procedure, saving significant cost and establishing a more direct diagnostic path for the patient.

  1. Forecast Spikes in Inpatient Census

By assessing past data trends, hospitals can begin to predict census spikes. By idenfiying these events in advance, facilities can ensure sufficient staffing, maintain the quality of care, and prevent high-cost temporary and overtime pay.

  1. Reducing Readmissions and Adverse Outcomes

By analyzing the data surrounding readmissions and adverse outcomes such as unplanned returns to surgery, returns to critical care, and urinary tract infections, providers can understand the primary causes of these events and identify methods to reduce or prevent their occurance (and avoid the subsequent financial penalties).

Getting a handle on all of this data can be a difficult and time-intensive process, as data is often fragmented across a variety of information systems (e.g. electronic health records, faxes, laboratory systems, radiology systems, spreadsheets, etc.). Finding a partner to help assimilate and manage your facility’s data, and turn it into something useable, can help you start seeing the return on your data analytics.

HealthWare Systems’ ActiveXCHANGE enables easy data management and integration with any and all hospital data systems. Contact us to learn more about how ActiveXCHANGE can help with your data analytics.

Hospitals with ‘Superior’ Customer Experience Achieve 50% Higher Net Margins

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Hospitals with ‘Superior’ Customer Experience Achieve 50% Higher Net Margins

Posted on Mon, Jun 06, 2016

Cost Cutting Measures Don’t Pay in Comparison to Increased Revenues from Happy Patients

We have entered the era of patient-as-consumer, who shops around for the best price and value for their medical services, and the associated Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems (HCAHPS). Facing these growing market factors, many healthcare organizations are trying to figure out how to maximize their patient experience. However, faced with constantly increasing costs and tight budgets, the question is how much to spend on these initiatives and what the ROI looks like.Fortunately, a study was recently released that provides more concrete data to answer these questions. And it’s a surprisingly powerful argument for the importance – actually, the necessity – for prioritizing the customer experience in healthcare.

“U.S. hospitals that deliver ‘superior’ customer experience achieve net margins that are 50 percent higher, on average, than those of hospitals providing ‘average’ customer experience.” 

This finding (from the study just released by Accenture Consulting) supports the idea that improving the patient experience is significantly more valuable for hospitals’ bottom lines than cost cutting measures. Based on six years of hospital income margin data combined with customer experience surveys, the report found that hospitals with high HCAHPS scores are growing at an above-average rate, with revenue growth exceeding operating expenses in those hospitals.

So if these findings are taken as representative of a forward-looking industry trend, we can summarize like this: Cost-cutting measures don’t pay. Making people happy (and healthier) does.

Of equal importance, the survey noted that this finding is true across hospitals of every size and type — “For-profits, non-profits, academic, non-academic, urban, rural, stand-alone hospitals and those that are part of a major health system” — and that the “correlation is historical and growing in importance over time.”

Two Key Strategies to Further Improve the Patient Experience

Many hospitals have been working on creating a successful patient experience for some time. While there is no “one size fits all” solution to deliver a superior customer experience, there are two key strategies that apply to any facility seeking to build on its existing customer experience programs.

Establish an Environment That is Caring & Attentive

Patients and their families are often at one of their lowest, most vulnerable points when in the care of a hospital or medical center. While emotions and sensitivity are running high, it’s easy to get upset over small errors or delays. However, patients who feel that the medical and support staff care about them personally are more likely to be understanding of small inconveniences and frustrations. Creating this environment of caring and personal attention establishes trust and comfort between the patient and the hospital staff.

Creating a caring environment needs to be consistent from the top to the very bottom. Hospital staff should feel that their employer cares about them as well. The key to achieving this is to know and understand your patients and staff. Identify what matters to them, and what they will appreciate. This can be done via surveys as well as patient information and tracking data.

Whether patients appreciate easy access to drinking water, more accurate estimates of nurse response times, or more daylight in the waiting and patient rooms, there will be specific interests that are most important to your facility’s patients and those are the items to address. Similarly, staff may need more accurate predictive staffing and scheduling to minimize surges and overcrowding, access to healthier snacks, or more comfortable flooring on which to stand all day.

When a hospital can truly understand their patients and staff, then it can respond and create a caring and attentive environment.

Walk in Your Patients’ Shoes (See Your Facility from Their Perspective)

Have you ever watched “Undercover Boss”? The owner or CEO of a company goes undercover as a temporary or new employee to experience working at the company from a different perspective. The lessons are usually eye-opening.

To get a fresh perspective on your facility’s patient experience, spend a day once a year walking in your patients’ shoes. Park in the patient parking lot and watch how the other drivers find a space. (Does it take a long time? Is it crowded or difficult to navigate?) Walk to the main door, go through the registration process, and watch other people navigating their way to appointments. Is the wayfinding signage truly easy to interpret?

Delays and frustrations can result from a single missing or illegible sign, or outdated parking configurations. You may never identify these kinds of operational missteps from your own office.

Patient tracking software like ActiveTrack can provide personalized wayfinding maps to patients who check-in at a kiosk or greeter station; route patients to registrars with the skills to handle their individual needs (i.e. language preferences or financial consulting); and can notify clinical staff of patient arrivals and registration status by text, page or email, and can be used as a communication tool between registration and clinical departments. 

ActiveTRACK captures real-time registration metrics during the patient tracking process, and enables management to monitor multiple areas across a single or multi-facility campus from a central location.It also measures patient registration and clinical wait times, registration times, and clinical throughput times to give management the information they need to improve efficiency, reduce patient wait times, and improve patient satisfaction. 

Learn more about how ActiveTrack is helping hospitals nationwide improve their customer experience ratings.