Improving Practice Performance: It Starts with Data

Dermatologists are adopting new reporting and analytics solutions to help grow their practices.

Between the evolving regulatory environment, shrinking payment margins, increasing patient financial responsibility and a rise in healthcare consumerism, it is no wonder that specialty practices, including dermatologists, are being pulled in multiple different directions. Amid this cacophony of change, organizations sometimes wrestle with how best to focus improvement efforts and resources throughout the practice. 

As with other industries, health care organizations across the continuum are embracing the idea of data analytics to look past the noise and better understand their businesses. It is estimated that the health care data marketplace will grow to more than $34 billion by the end of 2022. Following this trend, dermatologists are adopting new reporting and analytics solutions to help grow their practices, but they can become confused with so many options, features, and resources on the market. This article explores the benefits of using these reporting and analytics solutions, suggests what to look for when implementing them, and discusses how to ensure an optimal return on investment for your practice.

Practice data holds the answers

Before a dermatology practice can realize better performance with data analytics, it should first take stock of its current state, which requires a comprehensive review and report of performance data. It used to be difficult—if not impossible—to access and interpret this type of information because practices were steeped in paper, and they had no effective or efficient method for meaningful data analysis.

However, with the advent of electronic health records (EHRs) and practice management (PM) systems that offer robust reporting and data analytics features, practices can now leverage reporting tools easily to understand and analyze their overarching strengths and weaknesses. For example, detailed reports can reveal whether a practice is meeting specific quality standards, facilitating patient access, and retaining patients over time. A practice can uncover priority areas of opportunity that warrant attention. Improvements in these areas stand to deliver the most financial benefits to the practice.
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Zeroing in on key areas

Due to the sheer volume of data that exists in a dermatology practice, once a dermatology practices starts reporting on data, it can be hard to know where to begin analytics work. Practices can focus on the following 2 key areas, among others, to translate into significant gains and return on investment (ROI) from your reporting and analytics investment.

1. The Patient Relationship

As individuals become more invested in where they seek care—looking for responsive service, high quality and greater efficiency—practices can remain competitive by ensuring the highest quality patient experience. By leveraging patient tracking capabilities found in an EHR, a dermatology practice can get a sense of the patient experience and identify opportunities to enhance the patient relationship.

This feature allows an organization to follow individuals across time, checking if they require return appointments, medication refills, wellness visits, or additional services. By regularly reviewing patient tracking reports, a practice can proactively reach out to patients to schedule them for services or discuss different options. Not only does this help patients stay on track with their health, it also communicates that the practice cares about their well-being, which helps with overall patient satisfaction and loyalty, and can lead to more repeat customers and referrals.

2. Business Operations

As margins become tighter, practices are searching for ways to improve efficiency, and there are some standard areas of business operations that merit a review. By studying scheduling data, for example, a practice can determine how well it uses available appointments. Are there certain times that are overbooked or under booked? Are there periods that tend to have a greater number of cancellations? By identifying patterns, a practice can retool its scheduling to support better utilization.

Similarly, an organization can examine the types of services being scheduled, and the frequency. This may point to the need to expand services or hire an additional provider. An organization can also closely review the geographic areas from which patients come, which can highlight whether it is wise to open new locations or perhaps close a facility that is underutilized. As practices explore new areas of growth, using analytics can give them tangible Key Performance Indicators to ensure they are growing in the most valuable ways.

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