5 ways hospitals can use data analytics

Reduce costs, improve care coordination

When it comes to healthcare analytics, hospitals and health systems can benefit most from the information if they move towards understanding the analytic discoveries, rather than just focusing on the straight facts.

George Zachariah, a consultant at Dynamics Research Corporation in Andover, Mass., explains the top five ways hospital systems can better use health analytics in order to get the most out of the information.
 
1. Use analytics to help cut down on administrative costs.
 
“To reduce administrative costs – it’s really one of the biggest challenges we face in the industry,” said Zachariah. “One-fourth of all healthcare budget expenses are going to administrative costs, and that is not a surprise because you need human resources in order to perform.”
 
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Zachariah suggests that hospital systems begin to better utilize and exchange the information they already have by making sure their medical codes are properly used, and thus, the correct reimbursements are received.
 
“Right now, with electronic medical records, you can see that automated coding can significantly enhance how we can turn healthcare encounters into cash flow by decreasing administrative costs,” he said.
 
2. Use analytics for clinical decision support.
 
Zachariah said that having all medical tests, lab reports and prescribed medications for patients on one electronic dashboard can significantly improve the way clinicians make decisions about their patients – while at the same time cutting costs for the organization.
 
“If all the important information is on one electronic dashboard, clinicians can easily see what needs to get done for a patient, and what has already been done. They can then make clinical decisions right on the spot,” he said. “In addition, clinicians will not be double-prescribing patients certain medications due to the lack of information they have on the patient.”
 
3. Cut down on fraud and abuse.
 
Zachariah said that with such a significant amount of money lost in the healthcare industry due to fraud and abuse, it’s important for organizations to use analytics for insight into patient information and what physicians are doing for their patients.
 
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“Analytics can track fraudulent and incorrect payments, as well as the history of an individual patient,” he said. “However, it’s not just about the analytic tool itself but understanding the tool and how to use it to get the right answers.”
 
4. Use analytics for better care coordination.
 
Zachariah believes that the use of healthcare analytics in the next 10 years is going to be extremely important for hospital systems.
 
“Even within the same hospital systems, it can be very disjointed,” he said. “I think we need to use analytics to help with patient handoff, both within systems and between all types of healthcare organizations across the country. Historically, within many organizations different specialties just didn’t communicate to one another about a patient, and I think we can really work to have all records reachable across the country.”
 
5. Use analytics for improved patient wellness.
 
Analytics can help healthcare organizations remind patients to keep up with a healthy lifestyle, as well as keep track of where a patient stands in regard to their lifestyle choices, said Zackariah.
 
“Analytics can be used to provide information on ways a certain patient can modify his or her lifestyle,” he said. “This makes a patient’s health a huge priority and I don’t think people will mind be reminded to take care of themselves.”