As we continue down the Meaningful Use (MU) path, I have run into numerous people that are worried about how the entire MU plan is falling into place. Some of the MU focus is designed to improve patient care and decrease health care costs by using electronic data. We can all agree that that is the intent, but many people I talk to are not quite sure how this is going to work successfully. This leads us to the million dollar question of, “what do I do with all of this data?” Stage 1 had us moving to “approved” electronic systems to start capturing data. Stage 2 is driving to capture more of the data and get more specific on how the data is being utilized. Stage 3 then drives towards using that data extensively to improve patient care and reduce health care costs. Will we potentially run into problems in Stage 3 if we are not capturing the proper data in Stage 1 and Stage 2? Will there be additional “interfaces” or scripts needed to get the data from one format into another to satisfy various requirements and share this data successfully?
Let me provide a visual example of data being used to improve patient care from a webinar sponsored by HIMSS from 2010. This slide shows how Denver Health uses blood pressure history and medical history together to treat hypertension. Notice the colored lines below the chart. The lines indicate the patients B/P status during a two year period, along with the medications being used to treat the patient over time. Notice there was not much improvement in the patient until they stopped prescribing a certain medicine. This one page can tell you the B/P history of a patient, what medications were used to treat them, and what meds worked and did not work over time to improve the patient’s condition. This is just one example of the potential power of using data properly. Based on the facilities ability to utilize data, they have made the following improvements: blood pressure controlled in 62% of patients vs. 24% nationally, cholesterol levels controlled in 70% of their diabetic patients compared to 35% nationally, and adolescent vaccination rates for Tdap are two-fold higher than national rates.
This is a great example of how powerful data can be to improve patient care and lower costs of health care. Are you doing all that you can to prepare yourself to utilize the data you are capturing?
What does this mean for you and how can you successfully utilize the data you have captured? First, you need to ensure you have the proper staff that understands the data and has the ability to make it useful. This could be the type of person that loves data and loves to see what it can show you once you know how to view it and present it in the proper format. You also need to ensure you have the reporting capabilities to extract and utilize the data. This is an area that seems to be weak in some of the EHR systems I have encountered. Finally, you need support from leadership to make process and policy changes based on this valuable data.
Not sure where to go from here to get what you need? ICE can assist with this in a variety of ways. Just contact us and we will see how we can work together to make your data as valuable as it could be!