Rehabilitation providers can benefit from analytics and business intelligence applications when applied to clinical practice.
Clinical information systems are designed to collect, analyze, report and display relevant information about the patient and the patient care process. They stand ready to answer the many questions about “What was done and how effective was it?” However, these systems, when applied to hospital operations, require adoption and standardization of clinical and operational behaviors to be effective. Too often hospital personnel, when confronted with these technologies, ask the right questions of their newly acquired system capabilities but fail to realize this investment requires additional efforts to transform their daily practices. Out of the box, many systems capture and report a variety of business and clinical metrics applicable to the rehabilitation hospital. These include patient waiting times, missed therapies, utilization rates for various modalities, and reporting timelines for physician’s admission and care plan documentation. However, using analytics that are too narrowly focused, such as productivity alone, fail in meeting the expectations of meaningful use, quality of care reports are equally important, such as variance from the plan of care.
The “age of analytics” began in 2006 with the widespread introduction of data reporting and mining tools. Some vendors have BI capabilities built into their systems, but providers must look for vendors that can combine data from their system and other systems, to effectively answer the most important questions about the effectiveness and quality of their practices. Most hospitals will require a system’s report containing multiple performance measures each displayed to highlight times when performance indicators, such as physician admission approval times, are slipping into a danger zone.
The timeliness of data presentation is a critical factor in performance improvement. For example, hospitals provided the rehabilitation program director a monthly report of which physicians were behind in signing their admission assessments. Now that information is presented daily, and rather than presenting it at a department meeting, the director calls individual doctors who are at risk of meeting documentation deadlines. That simple step resolves the problem.
The investment in clinical information systems increases in value as clinical intelligence is transformed into actionable performance to improve clinical practice. Each provider will discover a learning curve progression to using data. The use of data analysis and reporting for clinical rehabilitation has three distinct purposes: to justify what was done, to guide what should be done and to prescribe what is necessary. Each provider will modify practices at their rate and ability to do so as data reveals the evidence of their quality and effectiveness.