By Tom Cavanaugh, analytics, Zotec Partners
The global healthcare analytics market is set to balloon to a value of $129.7 billion by 2028. It doesn’t take much digging to figure out why. Data analytics tools used in healthcare are invaluable assets for providers looking for ways to improve the patient experience, as well as their own bottom lines. These tools allow them to perform a wide variety of tasks — including risk assessment, debt reduction, and revenue optimization — in more streamlined, efficient, and accurate ways.
However, this growth has also come with a spike in analytics challenges. Many providers are overwhelmed by trying to understand and utilize all of the information that analytics tools deliver. Without a clear way to analyze the wealth of data collected, healthcare analytics can often seem like a job that providers don’t have the knowledge or bandwidth to take on. With the right revenue cycle management solution, healthcare practices can collect, digest, and react to data for the betterment of business.
Best Data Practices for Utilizing Healthcare Analytics
If you’re a provider who wants to make the most of the data you’re collecting and the analytics tools you’re using, here are four strategies that can help you better understand and translate information into consumable, actionable insights:
1. Configure data based on your priorities.
Part of the value of data analytics tools in healthcare is that they can be used to pinpoint information that’s important to your organization. To accomplish this, however, you need to figure out what key performance indicators are most valuable to you in advance and focus on measuring those specific numbers. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending too much time sifting through data in search of a needle in a haystack.
Let’s say that your main priority is reducing bad debt. You would need to make sure that you (or your outside partners) were using analytics tools to build reports around this data specifically. The relevant data should be front and center in your dashboard and easily exported so it can be shared with stakeholders.
Looking at a data dashboard that’s not well-designed can be daunting. Your RCM vendor should give you the ability to configure your data visualization tools to cut through the clutter and show the data stories that matter the most to your business.
2. Pay attention to opportunities.
Improving healthcare using big data analytics is such a great opportunity because it can take information from the past and help you improve operations in the future. This is especially true when it comes to optimizing revenue.
If an organization fails to collect payments immediately, for example, healthcare analytics can help you understand why and guide you to more efficient practices. You can find out what percentage of your patients are paying upfront, compare that number to relevant metrics like bad patient debt or propensity to pay, and then use what you find to develop better strategies to collect upfront payments, engage with patients, or intelligently time claims to carriers in order to maximize revenue moving forward. Fixing the problem might be as simple as expanding payment choices, strategically holding on to some claims to optimize payments, or providing cost estimates, but you won’t know unless you take the time to examine the relevant data and put it to use.
3. Use data to identify trends.
One of the reasons the healthcare analytics market is thriving is because it has become a valuable tool for identifying trends in the industry and in individual practices. Your analytics tools or partners should be taking an aggregate of your data and using it to identify trends in your organization — for better or worse.
These trends can provide you with a number of insights, such as areas where you need to establish better workflow efficiency or whether you’re likely to meet specific financial targets. They can also help you make smarter staffing decisions and improve patient engagement and outreach.
Trend identification is a powerful tool for analyzing your business practices and identifying areas for opportunities and further growth.
4. Get to know your patients.
While data can certainly provide valuable insights about your practice and its operations, that’s not the only way healthcare analytics is useful. It can also provide you with meaningful data about your patients that can lead you to create a better patient experience over time.
Healthcare analytics enable you to view patient inquiries, survey results, and even patient comments and feedback — all valuable information for any provider that wants to improve its reputation and increase patient satisfaction. You can also use the trend-spotting powers of analytics to identify which issues come up most often and whether they’re resolved to patients’ satisfaction.
By following these best data practices, it’s possible to gain a better understanding of how the data you’re collecting can actually be put into action with healthcare analytics. A partnership with an intelligent RCM vendor with insightful and intuitive tools can be your number one ally as you dive into data. This enables you to improve almost every aspect of your practice and the care it offers.