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Health Catalyst Editors

Health Catalyst Editors is a team of senior editors and writers at Health Catalyst that bring over 60+ combined years of healthcare writing experience and a broad knowledge of the industry

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Health Catalyst Editors

The Top Four Skills of an Effective Healthcare Data Analyst

As health systems experience more pressure to deliver quality care with limited resources during a pandemic, data analysts play a vital role in helping organizations overcome new COVID-19-induced challenges. Data analysts provide direction about the best way to dissect data, identify areas for improvement, and solve complex problems that stand in the way of better healthcare delivery. However, by developing four specific skills, data analysts can optimize their work and help leaders make sound operational, clinical, and financial decisions:

Begin with the end in mind.
Focus on problem solving.
Master the foundational competencies.
Play the data detective.

Health Catalyst Editors

Healthcare Price Transparency: Understanding the Cost-Pricing Relationship

Healthcare consumers are demanding the same level of price transparency for medical care they have in other transactions—particularly as healthcare moves away from a fee-for-service model and patients are responsible for larger portions of their medical bills. Meanwhile, as of January 2021, federal regulation requires health systems to make their service charges publicly available. The healthcare industry, however, hasn’t historically succeeded with consumer-grade price transparency. Organizations must now figure out how to bridge the gap between their costs and patient charges. Doing so requires comprehensive understanding of all the costs behind a service and consumer-friendly explanation of how these expenses translate into prices.

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Improving Sepsis Care: Three Paths to Better Outcomes

Sepsis affects at least 1.7 million U.S. adults per year, making it a pivotal improvement opportunity for healthcare organizations. The condition, however, has proven problematic for health systems. Common challenges including differentiating between sepsis and a patient’s acute illness and data access. In response, organizations must have comprehensive, timely data and advanced analytics capabilities to understand sepsis within their populations and monitor care programs. These tools can help organizations identify sepsis, intervene early, save lives, and sustain improvements over time.

Health Catalyst Editors

Deliver Data to Decision Makers: Two Important Strategies for Success

Surviving on thin operating margins underscores the need for all end users at a health system to make decisions based on comprehensive data sets. This data-centered approach to decision making allows team members to take the right course of action the first time and avoid making decisions based on fragmented data that exclude key pieces of information.
To promote data-driven decision making and a data-centric culture, healthcare organizations should increase data access and availability across the institution. With easy access to complete data, end users rely on the same data to make decisions, no matter where they work within the health system.
Two strategies can help organizations integrate and deliver data to end users when they need it:

Select infrastructure that fits most people’s needs.
Ask the right questions.

Health Catalyst Editors

The Right Way to Build Predictive Models for the Most Vulnerable Patient Populations

Predictive artificial intelligence (AI) models can help health systems manage population health initiatives by identifying the organization’s most vulnerable patient populations. With these patients identified, organizations can perform outreach and interventions to maximize the quality of patient care and further enhance the AI model’s effectiveness.
The most successful models leverage a mix of technology, data, and human intervention. However, assembling the appropriate resources can be challenging. Barriers include multiple technology solutions that don’t share information, hundreds of possible, often disparate, data points, and the need to appropriately allocate resources and plan the correct interventions. When it comes to predictive AI for population health, simple models may harness the most predictive power, which allows for more informed risk stratification and identifies opportunities for patient engagement.

Health Catalyst Editors

Three Cost-Saving Strategies to Reduce Healthcare Spending

Health systems continue to face fiscal challenges and burdens due to changing reimbursement rates, COVID-19, and managing the aftermath of care disruptions from the pandemic. Operating on thin margins with limited resources means health systems need to adopt alternative cost-saving measures to maximize limited resources.
Comprehensive, reliable data increases visibility into expenses across the care continuum so that leaders can leverage new methods to save money, generate income, and accelerate cashflow to keep patients healthy and hospital doors open. With access to recent data, health systems can focus on three cost-saving strategies:

Increase physician engagement.
Predict propensity to pay.
Implement evidence-based standards of care.

Health Catalyst Editors

Charge Capture Optimization: Target Five Hotspots to Boost the Bottom Line

As health systems continue to adapt to the pandemic healthcare landscape, certain challenges remain—including generating revenue on thin operating margins. Poor charge capture is a common reason behind lost revenue that healthcare leaders often fail to address. Because charge capture is the process of getting paid for services rendered at a hospital, poor charge capture processes mean the hospital does not get paid in full for a service, resulting in lost revenue that is typically unrecoverable.
Health systems can avoid financial leakage and increase profits by focusing on five problem areas within charge capture practice:

Emergency services.
Operating room services.
Pharmacy services.
Supply chain and devices.
CDM mapping.

Health Catalyst Editors

Five Steps for Better Patient Access to Healthcare

While patient access challenges have been ongoing in healthcare, COVID-19 further stressed access infrastructure. Stay-at-home orders, temporary halts on in-person primary visits, transportation challenges, and more resulted in deferred or missed care. Meanwhile, pandemic-era workarounds, such as a shift to virtual care, have pushed a more digitized patient experience. As healthcare consumers and providers increasingly relying on touchless and asynchronous processes, health systems are discovering opportunities to improve patient access and the overall experience.
With the following five steps in a patient access improvement framework, organizations can scale and sustain innovations and lessons learned during the pandemic:

Create a patient access task force.
Assess barriers to patient access.
Turn access barriers into opportunities.
Implement an improved patient access plan.
Scale and sustain better patient access.

Health Catalyst Editors

Three Strategies to Deliver Patient-Centered Care in the Next Normal

Juggling financial demands, uncertain healthcare legislation, and COVID-19 can distract healthcare leaders from the most important aspect of care—patients. Delivering patient-centered care in this volatile market can be challenging, especially when traditional healthcare methods (e.g., in-person visits) are on hold. These sudden disruptions to routine care have highlighted the importance of keeping patients at the center of care, whether care delivery is in-person or virtual. Health systems can manage competing priorities, adjust to pandemic-induced changes, and deliver patient-centered care by focusing on three strategies:

Improve the patient experience.
Implement the Meaningful Measures Initiative.
Transition in-person visits to virtual.

Health Catalyst Editors

Shifting to Value-Based Care: Four Strategies Emphasize Agility

As the healthcare payment shift from fee-for-service (FFS) to value-based reimbursement takes longer than expected, health systems must balance existing volume-based models with a growing emphasis on value. Organizations are in different phases of the journey from volume to value, and policies continue to evolve. In response, the industry’s best stance is to sustain FFS revenue while following guidelines and strategies to be increasingly ready for value.
Organizations can use four methods to remain agile as they navigate the limbo between volume and value:

Understand the first ten years of value-based care and prepare for what’s next.
Identify essential strategies for shifting from volume to value.
Leverage the Medicare Shared Savings Program.
Use population health management as a path to value.

Health Catalyst Editors

Data Science Reveals Patients at Risk for Adverse Outcomes Due to COVID-19 Care Disruptions

One of the biggest challenges health systems have faced since the onset of COVID-19 is the disruption to routine care. These care disruptions, such as halted routine checkups and primary care visits, place some patients at a higher risk for adverse outcomes. Health systems can rely on data science, based on past care disruption, to identify vulnerable patients and the short- and long-term effects these care disruptions could have on their health. Data science can also inform the care team which care disruptions to address first. With comprehensive information about care disruption on patients, health systems can apply the right interventions before it’s too late.

Health Catalyst Editors

The Key to Better Healthcare Decision Making

When healthcare leaders make data-driven decisions, they often think they see the same thing in the data and assume they’re drawing the same conclusions. However, decision makers often discover later that they were looking at the data differently and didn’t derive the same insights, leading to ineffective and unsustainable choices. Healthcare leaders can manage differing data interpretations by using statistical process control (SPC) methodology to find focus, avoid divergent data interpretations, make better decisions, and monitor change for a sustainable future. By deriving concise insights, SPC separates the signal from the noise, augmenting leaders’ decision-making capabilities.

Health Catalyst Editors

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Healthcare: Four Real-World Improvements

As COVID-19 has strained health systems clinically, operationally, and financially, advanced data science capabilities have emerged as highly valuable pandemic resources. Organizations use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to better understand COVID-19 and other health conditions, patient populations, operational and financial challenges, and more—insights that are supporting pandemic response and recovery as well as ongoing healthcare delivery. Meanwhile, improved data science adoption guidelines are making implementation of capabilities such as AI and ML more accessible and actionable, allowing organizations to achieve meaningful short-term improvements and prepare for an emergency-ready future.

Health Catalyst Editors

Why Data-Driven Healthcare Is the Best Defense Against COVID-19

COVID-19 has given data-driven healthcare the opportunity to prove its value on the national and global stages. Health systems, researchers, and policymakers have leveraged data to drive critical decisions from short-term emergency response to long-term recovery planning.
Five areas of pandemic response and recovery stand out for their robust use of data and measurable impact on the course of the outbreak and the individuals and frontline providers at its center:

Scaling the hospital command center to pandemic proportions.
Meeting patient surge demands on hospital capacity.
Controlling disease spread.
Fueling global research.
Responding to financial strain.

Health Catalyst Editors

Healthcare Process Improvement: Six Strategies for Organizationwide Transformation

Healthcare processes drive activities and outcomes across the health system, from emergency department admissions and procedures to billing and discharge. Furthermore, in the COVID-19 era’s uncertainty, process quality is an increasingly important driver in care delivery and organizational success. Given this broad scope of impact, process improvement is intrinsically linked to better outcomes and lower costs. Six strategies for healthcare process improvement illustrate the roles of strategy, skillsets, culture, and advanced analytics in healthcare’s continuing mission of transformation.

Health Catalyst Editors

Safeguarding the Ethics of AI in Healthcare: Three Best Practices

As artificial intelligence (AI) permeates the healthcare industry, analytics leaders must ensure that AI remains ethical and beneficial to all patient populations. In absence of a formal regulatory or governing body to enforce AI standards, it’s up to healthcare professionals to safeguard ethics in healthcare AI.
The potential for AI’s use in support of the pandemic response can have enormous payoffs. However, ensuring its ethical implementation may prove challenging if healthcare professionals are not familiar with the accuracy and limitations of AI-generated recommendations. Understanding how data scientists calculate algorithms, what data they use, and how to interpret it is critical to using AI in a meaningful and ethical manner to improve care delivery. By adhering to best practices for healthcare AI, health systems can guard against bias, ensure patient privacy, and maximize efficiencies while assisting humanity.

Health Catalyst Editors

Three Analytics Strategies to Drive Patient-Centered Care

The cost of uncoordinated care that fails to prioritize patient needs is estimated to be over $27.2 billion. One of the primary reasons behind these wasted healthcare dollars is a failure to effectively leverage data to understand patient needs—a must-have to deliver patient-centered, value-based care (VBC).
Three analytics strategies enable health systems to focus on patients while also meeting the financial standards for VBC delivery:

Prioritize patient outreach by risk level.
Deploy data tools to combat COVID-19.
Promote data literacy.

Detailed information from comprehensive data sets allows health systems to understand patient needs at a granular level and then use that insight to drive care decisions. More informed care ensures health systems are also meeting the core elements of VBC—managing costs, delivering quality, and ensuring an excellent patient experience.

Health Catalyst Editors

To Safely Restart Elective Procedures, Look to the Data

Many health systems have realized they lack the data and analytics infrastructure to guide a sustainable reactivation plan and recover lost revenue from months of halted procedures due to COVID-19. However, with operational, clinical, and financial data, augmented by analytics tools, leaders have the visibility into hospital and resource capacity to guide a safe, sustainable elective surgery restart plan.
The first step on the road to recovery for health systems is access to robust analytics to understand the full impact of COVID-19 on clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. Second, organizations need data-sharing tools, like data displays and dashboards, allowing leaders to make decisions based on consistent data that support the organization’s reactivation goals. Leaders can even take the data one step further with predictive models and forecast procedure count, staff, and resources.

Health Catalyst Editors

Medical Practices’ Survival Depends on Four Analytics Strategies

With limited resources compared to large healthcare organizations and fewer personnel to shoulder burdens like COVID-19, medical practices must find ways to deliver better care with less. Delivering quality care, especially in a pandemic, is challenging, but analytics insight can guide effective care delivery methods, especially for smaller practices.
Comprehensive data combined with team members who can turn numbers into real-world information are essential for medical practices to ensure a strong financial, clinical, and operational future. Independent medical practices can rely on four analytics strategies to survive the uncertain healthcare market and plan for a sustainable future:

Prioritize access to up-to-date, comprehensive data sources.
Form a multidisciplinary approach to data governance.
Translate data into analytics insight.
Invest in analytics infrastructure to support rapid response.

Health Catalyst Editors

Shifting to Virtual Care in the COVID-19 Era: Analytics for Financial Success and an Optimized Patient Experience

The COVID-19 era has seen a decline in visits to ambulatory care practices by 60 percent and an estimated financial loss for primary care of over $15 billion. Shutting down elective care is financially unsustainable for health systems and for patients, who continue to need non-pandemic-related care. While virtual medicine has emerged as a viable and mutually beneficial solution for patients and providers, the shift from in-person to virtual health is logistically and financially complicated.
Processes and workflows from in-person care don’t directly translate to the virtual setting, and a financially successful shift requires deep understanding of the factors driving patient engagement and revenue in the new normal. As such, meeting patient needs and financial goals requires robust enterprisewide analytics that drill down to the provider level.

Health Catalyst Editors

Healthcare Financial Transformation: Five Leading Strategies

Healthcare financial transformation—improving care delivery while lowering costs—has been an ongoing challenge for health systems in the era of value-based care and an even more prominent concern amid COVID-19. While better care and reduced expense to organizations and consumers might seem like opposing goals, by understanding the true cost of services and other drivers of expense, organizations can successfully manage costs while maintaining, and even improving, care delivery. To that end, health systems can use data- and analytics-driven tools and strategies to addresses financial challenges, including uncompensated care, prolonged accounts receivable days, discharged not final billed cases, inefficient resource use, and more.

Health Catalyst Editors

Six Proven Methods to Combat COVID-19 with Real-World Analytics

As data in healthcare becomes more available than ever before, so does the need to apply that data to the unique challenges facing health systems, especially in a pandemic. Even with massive amounts of data, health systems still struggle to move data from spreadsheets to drive change in a clinical setting.
These six methods allow health systems to transform data into real-world analytics, going beyond basic data usage and maximizing actionable insight:

Create effective information displays.
Add context to data.
Ensure data processes are sustainable.
Certify data quality.
Provide systemwide access to data.
Refine the approach to knowledge management.

Advancing data use in healthcare with real-world analytics arms health systems with effective tools to combat COVID-19 and continue delivering quality care driven by comprehensive, actionable insight.

Health Catalyst Editors

Six Strategies to Navigate COVID-19 Financial Recovery for Health Systems

Research projects that 2020 healthcare industry losses due to COVID-19 will total $323 billion. As patient volumes fall and pandemic-related expenses rise, health systems need a strategy for both immediate and long-term financial recovery. An effective approach will rely on a deep, nuanced understanding of how the pandemic has altered and reshaped care delivery models. One of the COVID-19 era’s most impactful changes has been the shift from in-person office visits to virtual care (e.g., telehealth). Though patients and providers initially turned to remote delivery to free up facilities for COVID-19 care and reduce disease transmission, the benefits of virtual care (e.g., circumventing the time and resource drain of patients traveling to appointments) position telehealth as lasting model in the new healthcare landscape. As a result, healthcare financial leaders must fully understand the revenue and reimbursement implications of virtual care.

Health Catalyst Editors

How to Optimize the Healthcare Revenue Cycle with Improved Patient Access

Despite pandemic-driven limitations, health systems can still find ways to optimize revenue cycle and generate income. When health systems improve and prioritize patient access through a patient-centered access center, they can improve the revenue cycle performance through decreased referral leakage, better patient trust, and optimum communication across hospital departments.
Rather than relying on traditional revenue cycle improvement tactics, health systems should consider three ways a patient-centered access center can positively impact revenue cycle performance:

Advance access.
Optimize resources.
Engage stakeholders.

Health Catalyst Editors

Population Health Success: Three Ways to Leverage Data

As the healthcare industry continues to focus on value, rather than volume, health systems are faced with delivering quality care to large populations with limited resources. To implement population health initiatives and deliver results, it is critical that care teams build population health strategies on actionable, up-to-date data. Health systems can better leverage data within population health and drive long-lasting change by implementing three small changes:

Increase team members’ access to data.
Support widespread data utilization.
Implement one source of data truth.

Access to accurate, reliable data boosts population health efforts while maintaining cost and improving outcomes. With actionable analytics providing insight and guiding decisions, population health teams can drive real change within their patient populations.