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.

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.

Return on the data analytics investment

Not all analytics solutions are the same, and it is important when thinking about employing this technology that practices understand the nuances that can deliver a greater ROI.  

For example, a reporting solution that offers both real-time functionality and customized reports can give you the most detailed picture of current operations and performance changes. The real-time component allows you to look at a dashboard of key metrics to get a snapshot of what is going on with the practice and how that is changing over time. Customized reports allow staff to dig deeper into certain areas, like business operations or patient engagement, looking at varied and unique combinations of metrics or timeframes to further pinpoint improvement opportunities.

Flexibility in scheduling is also valuable. If an organization can schedule reports to run during off hours or practice downtimes, the reports can then be ready and waiting when staff is in the office and has time to review the information, which means no more wasted hours pulling reports. The reporting function should also be efficient and integrate with the EHR and PM solutions, allowing staff to easily generate comprehensive reports without taking time away from more patient-focused tasks.

 Overall, by using a reporting solution that seamlessly integrates with existing technology and allows flexibility and customization, a practice can gain the most knowledge from their data and more accurately understand how to take its operations to the next level.

Making the Commitment

They say that knowledge is power, and this certainly holds true when it comes to enhancing practice performance. The more dermatology practices can commit to using data to assess existing operations, identify improvement opportunities and make changes to boost performance, the better the practice will be at navigating the ever-evolving healthcare environment and getting the most out of their technology solutions.  

Ntoh

Ms. Ntoh is senior professional services consultant at Nextech. 

Reference

Bresnick J. Big Data Analytics to Bring Billions in Healthcare Market Growth. Website. HealthIT Analytics. https://healthitanalytics.com/news/big-data-analytics-to-bring-billions-in-healthcare-market-growth Accessed May 11, 2018