Why Data Transparency Is the Most Important Metric for Healthcare Providers Right Now

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Author: HIT Consultant Media (Tom Cavanaugh, VP of Product Development at Zotec Partners)

Tom Cavanaugh, VP of Product Development at Zotec Partners

Healthcare providers all over the world are battling with how to take patient information and patient care digital. How can we use the tools and technology at our fingertips to make treating patients easier and more effective, rather than more complicated? Converting data into useful information will be the key to making this transition successful. 

Data is the currency, language, form, and function of digital transformation in healthcare. Having an easily accessible data warehouse and visualization tools means you can make sense of data anytime, anywhere. Transparency helps organizations filter and sort capabilities and personalize views so that providers can drill down into any detail they need. Data transparency ensures that providers can benchmark data across facilities, partners, and timeframes; gather daily, accurate updates on cases; and pinpoint opportunities for improvement.

Access and availability are also vital. Data availability means ensuring that you can obtain data that is important to operations and revenue cycles, including data on patient demographics and encounters, billing, and claims management. 

How are healthcare providers reporting and analyzing data?

In order to understand data transparency, we have to understand what kinds of data healthcare providers should be collecting and analyzing. 

Your revenue cycle management (RCM) partner can be a supportive crutch when it comes to this process. The main kinds of data that healthcare technology partners can help you collect and aggregate are billing information, patient demographics, and insurance details for payment of claims, including dates of service, medical codes, and service rates. These payment-based data types are collated to track inefficiencies in the RCM process. Machine learning techniques can then be applied to produce anomalies and propensity-to-pay scores, which are key enablers of revenue improvement. 

There’s also a significant opportunity to help providers fight burnout and focus on productivity where it matters most in patient care. Providers and their RCM partners can work together to aggregate and track scheduling and registration information, utilizing data visualization capabilities to predict insights around how to improve performance metrics and easy capacity concerns. 

For providers, this data helps develop and tell the story of a patient and those providing care, enabling a healthier overall practice.

How should organizations store and use data effectively? 

When it comes to storing and analyzing this data, healthcare providers face a number of challenges. For a start, there’s no comprehensive data aggregator in healthcare, no third-party data source that provides holistic information that encompasses all sets of healthcare data from end to end. Finding any kind of average or benchmark is difficult. Providers can only access data in their remit; that’s why finding a data partner is helpful. They can benchmark your data against similar clients and afford you that demographic perspective. 

Getting data out of healthcare systems in order to use and compare it is also becoming more challenging as systems increase their permissions thresholds to avoid breaches. Data dumping or dragging is no longer an acceptable, effective process for analyzing charts, viewing dashboards, or spotting upcoming charges. 

Here are simple steps to improve your data storage and use:

1. Go back to the purpose.

Remember the reasons for collecting data in the first place. The end goal is to enhance the patient experience and provide healthcare more effectively, empathetically, and sustainably. Always go back to the goal. What are we trying to solve by accessing more data? 

2. Capture the right data in the first place.

When thinking about how to more effectively store data, the success of any storage or analysis effort is going to depend on the quality and relevance of the data coming into your organization. An analysis is only as good as the data that feeds it. Make sure you’re capturing data that will hold insights for your particular purpose so you can report on what’s important and impactful to your practice. 

3. Focus on data availability.

There’s no point fishing for data if that data is not accessible and usable. Some practices don’t have access to all of their RCM data, or they only have access on a weekly or monthly basis. These limitations can delay and impact decision-making which can, in turn, impact patient treatment. Develop strategies on how you can make the data you’re collecting more widely accessible.

4. Make data reading more straightforward.

One problem with data availability is that a lot of data we collect is stored in complicated ways and requires a highly specialized data analyst to make sense of it. Aim to make the data experience easier to understand. Make sure your data analytics tool is user-friendly, clean, customizable, and actually helps you do your job better. 

Having data insights at your fingertips can help improve efficiencies, optimize revenue, enhance the patient experience, streamline operations, and much more. Practicing healthy data collection and analysis will be beneficial for both your patients and their care providers. To make it really work for everyone, we need to develop a high level of data transparency as soon as possible.

About Tom Cavanaugh 
Tom Cavanaugh is the vice president of product development at Zotec Partners, the country’s largest privately held provider of patient engagement, revenue cycle, and practice management solutions. 

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