Introducing Touchstone: The Next-Generation Healthcare Benchmarking and Opportunity Prioritization Tool

Article Summary

To do healthcare benchmarking effectively and efficiently, healthcare organizations need to know where they’re underperforming, where they’re performing well, and how to focus and prioritize their improvement efforts. They also need a new approach to benchmarking that isn’t limited to the inpatient setting.

The Health Catalyst® Touchstone™ product is the next-generation healthcare benchmarking and prioritization tool that delivers what antiquated benchmarking technologies cannot:

• Risk-adjusted benchmarking across the full continuum of care.
• Artificial intelligence-powered recommendations.
• Ranked lists of improvement opportunities.
• Detailed analytics and an intuitive user interface that enable the easy exploration of factors driving performance issues.
• Democratized benchmarking that’s available to as many people as the organization wants.

Touchstone was designed with many users and use cases in mind, from population health analysts looking to improve ACO performance to C-suite leaders who need a data-driven approach to prioritizing improvement opportunities.

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When it comes to healthcare benchmarking today, organizations need to be able to do four things quickly, effectively, and efficiently:

  • Identify where they are underperforming.
  • See where they are performing well.
  • Decide where to focus their improvement efforts.
  • Prioritize their improvement efforts.

Many things stand in the way of accomplishing these objectives:

  • The process of selecting opportunities for performance improvement is under-informed by data.
  • Healthcare benchmarking data, used to compare an organization’s processes to those of top-performing organizations nationwide, is notoriously difficult to explore.
  • Analysts must sift through hundreds of benchmarks to uncover opportunities for improvement, yet lack visibility into areas of high performance and causes of underperformance.
  • Most benchmarks address only inpatient performance, ignoring the comparative data from care settings outside the hospital that is essential to population health management.

Health Catalyst® Touchstone™ not only resolves these problems, but also expands the definition of benchmarking to include the full continuum of care. Touchstone proactively delivers prioritized, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered improvement recommendations in an intelligent, intuitive user interface. It’s the next-generation benchmarking and prioritization tool healthcare needs to accelerate outcomes improvement.

Current Approaches to Opportunity Identification and Healthcare Benchmarking Miss the Mark

Current benchmarking tools are built on antiquated technologies and are primarily focused on performance monitoring rather than recommending and driving sustained improvements. Unable to drill into healthcare data to reveal the cause of benchmark failures, current tools cannot tell organizations how to make improvements. Their high-cost, rudimentary user interfaces and limited use by a small number of people hampers their ability to democratize data and accelerate improvements. Current benchmarking tools provide either inpatient or ambulatory benchmarks, but rarely both. As a result, it is difficult to monitor performance across the continuum of care, making population health management less effective.

Unlike these traditional, antiquated approaches, Touchstone proactively recommends the top improvement opportunities from across the full continuum of care.

Touchstone Supercharges Healthcare Improvement with Full Continuum of Care Benchmarks and Prioritized Improvement Recommendations

Developed in partnership with some of the nation’s most prestigious healthcare organizations and by leveraging Health Catalyst’s proven ability to manage trillions of data points, Touchstone combs through data from EHRs, claims, cost-accounting datasets, operations, and external benchmarks to provide:

  • Risk-adjusted benchmarking—Reveals an organization’s performance data across the continuum of care and in context, at the point of decision-making via an intuitive user interface.
  • AI-powered intelligent direction—Uses AI and Elasticsearch, an in-memory NoSQL database capable of querying billions of records in less than one second, to guide users to the data and analyses that are most relevant to their work and to the organization’s goals. AI accounts for variation in care, external benchmarks, trending analysis, and outlier detection to recommend how improvements can be made.
  • Ranked list of improvement opportunities—Helps users prioritize initiatives based on projected clinical, financial, and operational improvements and associated dollar value.
  • Detailed analytics—Provides dynamic data exploration, real-time filtering, and drill-down to help users explore the factors driving performance issues.
  • Democratized benchmarking—Makes benchmarking available to as many people as the organization wants, speeding the sharing of insights leading to improvements.

Unlike traditional linear modeling approaches, Touchstone uses machine learning algorithms to find the highest areas of improvement opportunity, and then recommends those areas in a user-friendly, intuitive user interface that empowers analysts to explore the underlying factors behind each opportunity. Touchstone recommendations (Figure 1) show improvement opportunities based on costs and/or outcomes by patient cohorts, departments, or organizationwide. Drill-down capabilities enable detailed root cause analysis and data-driven insights.

Sample graphic of Touchstone recommendations
Figure 1: Touchstone Recommendations Demonstrate Intuitive Drill-Down Capabilities

Touchstone’s prioritization matrix (Figure 2) and easy-to-use interface turns average analysts, usually hindered by very manual processes, into extremely efficient, world-class analysts. It answers analysts’ most common questions:

  • Where do I have the highest length of stay (LOS) compared to risk-adjusted benchmarks?
  • Which patient cohorts do I have the greatest opportunity to improve when considering my performance on all my cost and outcome metrics simultaneously?
  • How can I combine clinical variation analysis and comparisons to risk-adjusted benchmarks to find opportunities to improve or areas where I excel?
Sample graphic of Touchstone’s prioritization matrix
Figure 2: Touchstone Prioritization Matrix Powered by Machine Learning

Touchstone lets analysts look at many different factors simultaneously: a global perspective that’s rare in healthcare benchmarking and performance improvement, and helps analysts identify the factors underlying each opportunity. In the same way Netflix finetunes its recommendations based on user preferences over time, Touchstone’s recommendations improve over time based on user interest (e.g., surgical services, labor and delivery, etc.).

Touchstone Modules Address Clinical, Operational, and Financial Improvement Needs

Touchstone’s modules address healthcare organizations’ most demanding clinical, operational, and financial improvement needs:

  • Inpatient Module—Discovers areas of excellence within an organization compared to national benchmarks. It identifies inpatient performance opportunities against risk-adjusted benchmarks for metrics such as mortality, LOS, readmissions, and variable direct costs (e.g., supplies, labor, etc.). It also identifies care processes that offer the greatest opportunity for improvement: those with high variation in cost and poor outcomes.
  • Population Health Module—Enables organizational performance against risk-adjusted benchmarks for metrics such as cost (per member per month), utilization, mortality, LOS, and readmission. It also gives organizations insight into their highest-performing primary care physicians in a network, patient populations based on chronic conditions (and for whom care can be improved), and health plan performance compared to similar plans nationwide or throughout a specific region.

Touchstone was created to solve common problems (and the associated headaches) health system staff (analysts, leaders, etc.) encounter daily.

From Analysts to C-Suites: Touchstone Was Built with Everyday Use Cases in Mind

Touchstone’s state-of-the-art outcomes improvement and benchmarking capabilities were designed with multiple users and everyday use cases in mind:

Population Health Analyst Who Wants to Improve ACO Performance

A population health analyst wants to understand how to improve ACO performance. Touchstone recommends an opportunity to reduce inpatient utilization in the diabetic population attributed to the organization’s Medicare MSSP contract. After drilling into Touchstone’s explore tab, the population health analyst discovers that high inpatient utilization is being driven by patients attributed to five primary care providers who have visit utilization rates 80 percent lower than the risk-adjusted benchmark. The analyst recommends scheduling the physicians’ patients for wellness visits.

Health Plan Analyst Looking for Opportunities to Improve Benefit Design

A health plan analyst looking for opportunities to improve benefit design is directed by Touchstone to an orthopedics doctor who performs knee replacements that are 20 percent less expensive than the benchmark, with a readmission rate that is 15 percent lower. The following year, the plan augments its benefit design to drive more volume to the high-performing doctor.

Program Manager Who Wants to Improve Outcomes and Lower Costs

A program manager in a hospital’s surgical department uses Touchstone to look for opportunities to lower costs and improve outcomes. Touchstone recommends an opportunity to improve the mortality rate for CABG procedures, currently running 90 percent higher than the risk-adjusted benchmark would expect. Drilling into the data, the manager finds that three physicians’ cases are driving most of the high mortality rates and that the variable direct cost of supplies is correlated with these higher-than-expected mortality rates. The manager deploys a clinical analyst to investigate the specific drivers of the cost differential, positing that if there are discrepancies in the way these three providers deliver care they could be rectified to reduce overall mortality and cost.

Chief Quality Officer Who Wants a Data-Driven Approach to Setting Improvement Goals

Healthcare C-suites (chief quality officers, chief medical officers, chief finance officers, etc.) finally have a data-driven approach to selecting and prioritizing improvement goals. Touchstone empowers C-suites to make data-driven decisions in pursuit of improvement goals with the highest ROI.

No matter the user or the use case, Touchstone’s intelligent user experience makes it simple for everyone, even non-analysts, to accomplish their specific goals.

Touchstone Is the Industry’s Next-Generation Tool for Healthcare Benchmarking and Performance Improvement

Touchstone transforms the industry’s traditional, myopic approach to healthcare benchmarking and performance improvement. It proactively recommends prioritized opportunities using AI-powered risk models; it democratizes benchmarking for all staff with an intelligent, intuitive user interface; it includes risk-adjusted benchmarks for the full continuum of care (not just the inpatient setting); and it allows for quick, iterative root cause analyses to understand the elusive “why” behind each opportunity.

Touchstone is the next-generation healthcare benchmarking and prioritization tool healthcare organizations can rely on to accelerate outcomes improvement, enhance performance, and achieve a competitive advantage.

Additional Reading

Would you like to learn more about this topic? Here is an article we suggest:

6 Steps for Implementing Successful Performance Improvement Initiatives in Healthcare

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