Data itself does not make decisions, but when it is processed, analyzed and turned into useable reports, it becomes a powerful tool to guide decision making. This is data analytics. We use it to understand what is happening to our patients and how they are receiving care to ensure that we stay focused on our mission – keeping our patients as healthy as possible.
Data analytics informs Atrius Health clinicians, staff, and executives about what is actually happening – or not happening – in a practice so they can make decisions to improve care based on hard numbers and facts rather than anecdotes.
We have a robust data infrastructure and an experienced team of data specialists who work to seamlessly stitch together data from our various internal business systems, our electronic medical record system, as well as external data from our insurance partners. This complex process of capturing and integrating data accurately and efficiently is a critical foundation that is a prerequisite for any appropriate use of our data for analysis. However, our investment in these core foundations has created a phenomenal platform for our practice to use data broadly across the organization.
One good example is our Medicare patient risk stratification tool. Current state-of-the-art commercial technology is still only able to use insurance payer data. However, many clinically relevant pieces of data are only available in our electronic medical record. At Atrius Health, we created a risk stratification tool that both takes advantage of the state-of-the-art capabilities of a commercial tool as well as the data within our medical record system. While data is never used in a silo (remember George Box’s comment that all models are wrong, but some are useful), this tool helps our clinicians leverage advanced analytics to sift through 12 months of historical data to highlight patients who may benefit from some extra attention and help.
As our healthcare systems continue to evolve and our clinical understanding of how to keep patients healthier continues to grow by leaps and bounds, the use of healthcare analytics is rapidly become an essential part of 21st century medical practice. The quest to continuously improve the care we provide to our patients and communities requires us to be adaptive and innovative – to be constantly learning and looking for opportunities to make things better. To do that efficiently and effectively, we need good, timely, and accurate data to identify and expand those innovations that really help the practice.