Business intelligence boosts in-network patient referrals at Indiana health system
Indianapolis-based Community Health Network had a difficult challenge: access to data that will guide staff throughout the planning, execution and measurement stages of the growth process.
“The primary role of a physician liaison is to contribute to the strategic growth planning process, to play a key role in implementing tactics that achieve the growth goals, and to measure and report outcomes,” said Lisa Wissman, physician liaison at Community Health Network. “To be successful, it is imperative that we have knowledge of the markets, where we can serve patients, and insights into the provider-to-provider relationships that exist.”
To overcome this challenge, Community Health Network turned to business intelligence technology from enterprise SaaS vendor Welltok.
The vendor’s system, Physicianology, enables hospitals to better understand how physicians are interacting to build stronger relationships and provide guidance. The system is helping the health system understand the physician network and where they are referring patients for additional care services, tests or procedures.
Providers use the system when they have an opportunity to refer a patient for one of these services – to refer them to an in-network facility, rather than an external one. This saves the patient time and money and keeps the revenue within the hospital’s network.
“Physicianology provides us with multiple data points, including individual provider profiles, internal referral relationships and external claims data,” Wissman explained. “This data offers us information about physicians and advanced practice providers in each market – their contact information, where they see patients and perform procedures, and the potential referral relationship that exists with other providers.”
This information is key in helping the provider organization determine growth opportunities, gaps in services in specific markets, and potential opportunities to strengthen existing and build new relationships, she added.
There are many business intelligence system vendors on the market today. Some of the vendors of these systems include Infragistics, Looker, Microsoft, Qlik, SAP, SAS, Sisense and Tableau Software.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Community Health Network uses the technology in a variety of ways: documenting outreach activities, tracking issues and resolutions, creating lists of resources in targeted markets, identifying relationships between providers, creating specific action plans for outreach and relationship development, tracking increases or decreases in shared patients over identified timelines, and using data analytics to assist with growth planning.
“We have a team of physician liaisons who are the primary users of the technology,” Wissman said. “Our team has data requests from service line leaders to assist with defining market needs and areas of opportunity to expand our services. In addition, we have other key business development resources in our network who use the technology to document and track outreach efforts.”
"When ‘launching’ a new physician in the market, the technology allows us to identify a target list of potential referral sources and then track and report on the number of physician-to-physician introductions that were made."
Lisa Wissman, Community Health Network
The business intelligence system is integrated with the provider organization’s Epic electronic health record system and Cactus medical staff roster feed.
Results of using the system have included the development of new relationships and an increase in patient referrals into Community Health Network’s own network. In addition, the tracking of issues and identification of trends to report to key operational leaders to highlight the need for process and/or access improvement.
“When ‘launching’ a new physician in the market, the technology allows us to identify a target list of potential referral sources and then track and report on the number of physician-to-physician introductions that were made,” Wissman explained. “These face-to-face introductions and conversations are key to creating awareness, building trust and opening the door for referrals to the new physician.”
The technology also equips staff with data to track growth in encounters in targeted relationships. For example, staff can create a list of physicians in a practice and then monitor and measure the number of encounters (or patient appointments) that occur in-network that are linked to the targeted physicians.
“We just reported on the continued increase in encounters from 2017 to 2018 and then to 2019 with an independent primary care practice,” she added. “The technology includes graphs and dashboards that displayed this data.”
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“Health systems should look for technology that includes the full range of data sources and the commitment from the organization to be consistent with refreshing the data in a timely manner,” Wissman advised. “In addition, other key considerations include finding an organization that is focused on user experience, has a strong/responsive development team and a team to provide client support services. The team must have the tools to assist with data requests and the creation of impact reports and dashboards.”