With U.S. healthcare spending reaching a high of $3 trillion or $9,523 per person, according to recent estimates, providers and payers are looking to big data to reduce costs and meet the needs of a growing patient population.
The widespread adoption of electronic health records has helped advance this effort, boosting the quality and quantity of clinical data for research and analysis. This, along with the rapid development of patient-monitoring technologies, creates new opportunities for developing analytics to improve the value of patient care.
A recent report from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) explores how these business intelligence efforts could increase affordability for both groups. Here are five areas spotlighted in the report where healthcare BI has the potential to cut costs as well as improve and streamline care.
- Targeting Care to Patient Needs
Just five percent of patients account for nearly half of all U.S. healthcare spending. By analyzing large sets of patient data, providers can predict which ones fall into this high-risk category and better understand their needs. Providers can also identify any gaps in their medical care and adjust accordingly.
For clinicians to maximize this data, they must be able to receive it in a way that doesn’t disrupt their current workflow. Having the ability to analyze patient data across different population sets can also help physicians cut back on the number of unnecessary tests or procedures conducted.
- Reducing Readmissions
Hospitals may be able to prevent readmitting patients shortly after they have been been treated and discharged, at least in one-third of all cases, the BWH report estimates. By using electronic health records to develop models predicting who is likely to be readmitted, providers can determine which patients they need to monitor more closely after discharge and keep tabs on them through health trackers on smartphones or wearable technology with mobile sensors. Effectively implementing this requires tailoring the intervention to individual patients and ensuring they receive the one intended for them.
- Streamlining Care for All Patients
From the emergency room to the intensive care unit, prioritizing and managing patient needs effectively is essential to keeping costs low and quality high—and foreseeing any complications patients could develop once they are admitted.
Integrating a triage algorithm into the clinical workflow for managers to view via dashboards could help them track these needs in real time and adjust staff and bed resources accordingly. Receiving this information via push alerts and notifications can also help them speed up their response time.
4. Preventing Complications
The longer patients are in the hospital, the more susceptible they may be to complications, such as renal failure, infection and adverse drug reactions. Though highly preventable, these events are expensive and often result in high rates of morbidity and mortality, leaving providers vulnerable to malpractice suits.
Dashboards updating the status of patients can help managers lower these risks, especially in the ICU. Physiological data can also be used early on to determine a patient’s risk of organ failure should his or her condition deteriorate. Harnessing this data from multiple streams and analyzing it could help physicians determine which patients are at risk for decompensation, so they can monitor them closely.
- Containing Chronic Conditions
Chronic health conditions that affect multiple organ systems, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, can be challenging and expensive to manage, for both payers and providers. Using health records from these patients to develop treatment optimization algorithms can help physicians better predict the progression of these diseases and deliver treatments and therapies in a more targeted way.
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