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Can a Primary Health Clinic survive without Data Analysis?

Posted by John Kerry on October 5, 2017
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In today’s changing world of healthcare: clients’ or patients’ expectations are changing; the range of health services that clinics provide are increasing and delivering quality services efficiently with less resources is more and more demanding. The role of your IT platform and your access to accurate and real-time data analytics for clinic planning is increasingly a vital part of quality healthcare practice.

Almost all primary health clinics regardless of the disciplines or type of care they provide use practice management systems; the data collected is vital. Meaningful information at your fingertips may be able to help overcome these modern healthcare challenges. Can you use your clinic management system for staff performance review and meaningful reporting in real time?   

Many primary health providers and key clinic personnel are barely scratching the surface of a potential trove of useful information that may exist in your practice management system. This begs 2 questions:

  1. Is there a reluctance to harvest clinic information directly? Is it normal for a health provider to review and use their own clinic data to improve health services delivered? Is it normal for a health provider to review their clinic to increase efficiencies and see the actual business return?
  2. Then the next question: will primary health providers be able to survive without embracing new technology with regular review and analysis of their own data?

 To date, many primary health clinics are not using data in a meaningful way; maybe because the shift in healthcare is not at their doorstep yet or they are not embracing the changes in healthcare with a lack of recognition of the:

  1. ‘New consumers’ - patients becoming active clients. This is a new healthcare relationship requiring online activity by the patient at home or between visits. This requires a data collection approach that is then an integral part of their active clinical file.
  2. Coming shift in healthcare payments: from a fee for services rendered to payment according to value-based outcomes (based on patient-centric outcomes and a population management approach in your clinic). You will need to have ‘real time data’ from the patient or ‘client’ active in their care online.

Another key reason many primary health clinics are not using data in a meaningful way is the fact that most old practice management software was designed 20 years ago! And that model is now outdated. It was built to allow clinics to process electronically all payments and manage the codes for services. But not gather information around the outcomes for each patient and population. This older software was not designed to cater for “a team approach” across multi-disciplinary practices, multi-location practices. It was not built to collect data and be ready to deliver reports of data analysis on demand. This legacy software in many practices has forced the primary providers and clinic owners to invest in separate data analytics applications - wasting money and always increasing the work load for their own staff or requiring new employees to manage the data analysis software.

And a final answer as to whether clinics will survive without software that is built to deliver data analysis is a hesitant yes.  But, it’s more about defining the level of survival.

Clinics which do not start to analyse their data and know their healthcare outputs are likely to fall short of what the government and payers will demand from them for payments. It is now a business of healthcare where the patient and the provider are scrutinised by the payer. An assumption that all can be evidenced by the data collected in your software is the future of healthcare payments. Embracing this new and vital information will provide easy insights into the clinical and financial realities of your day-to-day clinic activities. This approach will either stay a smaller aspect of a clinic management approach or more likely become a normal part of larger primary health provider clinics. These clinics can grow and sustain their clinical models utilising technology to show the quality of services provided and at the same time reduce the costs of delivery.

Primary health providers are at a crossroad.

One way forward is to continue to rely on past practices and older software and wait for as long as possible to make any changes; this is the reactive waiting game in healthcare and can work until there is a total shift in payment models. 

The alternative is to embrace the need to analyse their data and understand where there is a need to improve efficiencies and outcomes as well as base future strategies on facts and readily measure outcomes to plans; planning the future of the clinic on facts.

This can be easily introduced and performed by replacing clinic applications designed years ago with enterprise purpose-designed clinic applications which provide powerful and ready access to all data rapidly, easily and accurately.

2018 will see a rapid growth in primary health clinics expanding into highly efficient health outcome suppliers using current generation technologies to meet patients’ and clients’ changing needs. Which road will your clinic select?

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John Kerry

BEc, MBA, FAICD, FAIM Regional Manager APAC Sales, Market Development

www.visualoutcomes.com

Please call us and ask about a 2018 ready Enterprise solution for your healthcare practice

info@visualoutcomes.com

Topics: Health Information Technology, value-based healthcare, Health Outcomes

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