Physician Reporting: The Secret to Useable, Engaging Reports
As a general internist at an outpatient clinic, I enjoyed most aspects of my work. I loved helping my patients, my colleagues and I made a great team, and we had effective IT and support. The only frustrating aspects were the physician reporting and performance reports: sheets of paper that offered little value beyond telling me if I was doing a “good” or “bad” job. What I really wanted from these reports was high quality data that showed me how I could improve.
Like most physicians, my goal is to provide patients with high quality care. I’m better positioned to do that if I receive feedback about how I’m doing; feedback I trust. When we get reports we don’t trust, we’re forced to spend valuable time investigating. We can’t always find the time required to decipher these reports, which often end up joining the stack of other papers on our desks. Despite my frustrations, I knew there had to be a way to make physician reporting useful and engaging.
Six Ways a Data Warehouse Can Improve Physician Reporting
There are six ways I’ve seen a data warehouse—which transforms disparate IT sources into a single source of truth—improve physician reporting:
#1: Cleaner Data Set
Physicians don’t need to worry about fixing data after the report is created. The systems and processes put in place on top of a data warehouse mitigate data quality issues, from frontline data entry errors to problems with free text in EMRs.
#2: Addresses the “But My Patients Are Different” Argument
Physicians often cite special circumstances in response to performance comparisons with other physicians. Running a Pareto analysis or Key Process Analysis with the data warehouse and adjusting for disease severity reveals just how different a physician’s patient population actually is.
#3: Up-To-Date Information
With up-to-date, real-time information, physicians know how they’re currently performing; they don’t have to rely on months-old data.
#4: Granular Data
Physicians can drill down to the individual patient level to see what care has been provided. They don’t have to rely on a three or six month average of an entire patient population.
#5: Physician Engagement and Ownership
Implementing a data warehouse is an organization-wide process that involves physician input and feedback from the start. Physicians take ownership of the data when they’re involved in this process:
- Physicians collaborate with other subject matter experts to develop an agile, iterative approach to building the reporting and analytics structure.
- Dashboards and reporting are customized based on physician preferences.
- Instead of being handed reports physicians struggle to understand, data pulled from a data warehouse can be fingerprinted to the organization or department.
#6: Saves Time
Having trustworthy, clinically relevant data helps identify patient care gaps and improvement opportunities. Up-to-date reporting helps physicians evaluate their improvement efforts so they can spend their time wisely.
Better Physician Reporting Can Change Behaviors and Improve Outcomes
The long-term goal is better patient care. Data can be a powerful catalyst for changing behaviors and improving outcomes. When physicians are engaged in the reporting process and feel a sense of ownership of the data, they’re better positioned to improve outcomes. For example, I wanted to know what percentage of my female patients were getting screening mammograms. Before the data warehouse was implemented, I received a report that told me 50 percent of my female patients had screening mammograms that year. But I immediately questioned that figure, and had a flurry of questions:
- How were mammograms being tracked in our system?
- Were we getting results from outside facilities in our tracking system?
- How could we get better data to know who really needed a mammogram?
- How could we improve our process to get an accurate list of patients needing mammograms (that we could use to make reminder calls?)
Effective physician reporting as a result of implementing a data warehouse that pulled in information from multiple sources (EMR, billing data, claims data, and scheduling), we were able to make significant improvements:
- We generated up-to-date lists and had more confidence in the data.
- We identified gaps in our tracking and implemented changes to improve.
- We improved our workflow during patient appointments, and, as a result, did a better job of ordering mammograms on schedule.
Data warehouse-generated reports empower physicians to improve patient care, by something as simple as making informed decisions about our daily routines to something as complex as incorporating best practices into care processes.
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