The Best Healthcare Analytics Application for Prioritizing Improvement Programs

Healthcare organizations across the U.S. are looking to analytics applications that will help them identify and prioritize the projects most likely to improve their delivery of care. But they’re not just interested in any solution — they’re looking for tools will give them their best return on investment (ROI).

Why my sepsis journey highlights the need for sophisticated analytics applications

There were no extenuating circumstances associated with my sepsis infection — it started when I went to a routine office visit for a cortisone shot in my knee. But on this occasion, my treatment resulted in an infection that required follow-up care in every area of healthcare, including physician offices, a hospital, a skilled nursing facility, and many sessions of physical therapy.

Personal costs of sepsis

All of this care was needed because it’s difficult for providers to identify sepsis and determine the effectiveness of their treatments, especially when they don’t have analytics tools to actively sift through the data to measure their interventions. While I received excellent care, I’ll probably suffer from chronic pain as a result of the multiple surgeries that could have been prevented if the disease had been diagnosed early on.

National costs of sepsis

The repercussions of the disease don’t stop at my discomfort and expenses, though. There are also significant costs to the providers and payers for both the primary treatments as well as readmissions and long-term care. In fact, for inpatient costs alone, the 2011 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) report identifies sepsis as the most expensive condition that hospitals treat, costing hospitals $20.3 billion in 2011 alone. These are the types of costs that CMS is trying to get under control by withholding reimbursement for health systems that don’t reduce their high rates of hospital–acquired conditions, including sepsis.

Because of the costs of diseases — both to the patient and to the provider — it’s critical that health systems have the proper tools to identify improvement areas. But the solution needs to be able to dig deep into a health system’s massive stores of patient data to find critical insights and patterns.

Eliminating the guesswork for improvement initiatives

The huge quantity of data a health system has stored is an asset in terms of mining the data for insights, but it also makes it difficult to know where to start when looking for an improvement project. That’s why it helps to eliminate the guesswork in addressing this question.

When we work with a health system, we start by helping them pinpoint the areas that the organization may want to focus in order to achieve both cost and quality goals. Remember, when you’re in finance, that’s the kind of thing that gets you very excited.

2 key solutions needed to identify improvement projects with the best ROI

To identify areas with the greatest opportunity for improvement in both cost and quality, we recommend organizations take the following steps:

1.     Healthcare Enterprise Data Warehouse

The first step is to establish a healthcare enterprise data warehouse (EDW). The vital importance of this step is something we’ve discussed in several other blogs. But to summarize, a healthcare-specific EDW organizes complex data from different source systems (clinical, financial, human resources, laboratory, research, for example) into a single source of truth for real-time analysis.

The EDW then becomes the foundation for analytics that users can engage with to identify areas in the organization that will yield the greatest improvements. While there are alternatives to an EDW, nothing else creates such a solid healthcare analytics foundation.

2.     Sophisticated Analytics

Once the EDW is in place, the organization has a foundation for sophisticated analytics solutions. These applications enable users to make sense of the data and discover the best areas to make changes.

Because there are many different types of analytics applications that are designed to solve different needs, it can be difficult to know where to start, though. We have the health systems we work with use the Key Process Analysis (KPA) application as a starting point.

Key Process Analysis (KPA) Application to discover the best areas for improvement

The Key Process Analysis application uses the Pareto principle (“80/20 rule”) to find areas with highest variation and highest resource consumption. This technique is also used in statistics and all-around business decision-making because it effectively identifies the limited number of input factors that will produce the most significant impact on output.

How Does the KPA Application Work?

The KPA Application combines…

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