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How to efficiently use the ever-growing amount of digital data in healthcare

24 Apr 2017 · Rafic Habib
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It's hard not to notice the ever increasing growth of healthcare related data in recent years. Despite the numerous advantages of EMRs–improved quality of care, patient involvement and satisfaction, anticipated time savings–EMRs often come with their own set of challenges.

With over 30% of world data storage occupied by the healthcare industry, many healthcare organisations are quickly exhausting their reserves with an estimated 45% of them needing to upgrade their data storage capacities within the next year. Previously, growing healthcare organisations faced severe increases in the cost of data storage–yet the rapid adoption of secure, cloud storage platforms like Microsoft Azure is softening the financial impact of this problem.

Today, at the front lines of any clinic or healthcare organisation, it’s apparent that the real issue isn't how this data is stored; it's how it’s used.

 

Stop Drowning In Data: Here Are 4 Strategies To Help Leverage This Valuable Asset:

 

1. Go beyond collecting patient data

The real problem EMRs cause stems from the sheer volume of data that’s collected daily. It’s usually in an unstructured, uncategorized and unusable format.

Adding to the issue is the way that EMRs force physicians to chart and aggregate patient data. They are required to capture so much unnecessary information which makes processing and analysing the data impossible within the limited time spent with the patients.

This hefty process prioritises the aggregation of data, draining the physician’s time rather than allowing them to engage with the patient one-on-one and provide treatment and advice based on the data collected.

By automating sets of data and pre-filling relevant parts of a patient file, doctors can minimise data-entry and instead focus on engaging with their patients. EMRs should help physicians filter through the relevant data to find what they need while presenting it in an easy-to-act-upon format rather than doing the opposite.

 

2. The Right Data, At The Right Time

EMRs should support healthcare providers by intuitively selecting and supplying only the relevant data needed at different instances, which could rely on multiple variables, including:

  • The role of the healthcare professional
  • The role of the patient being treated
  • The application of the data

For example, a Doctor seeing a patient after an MRI scan, we all agree, should have immediate access to the results before the consultation, however how about knowing the patient’s next move ahead of the consult or if they are booked in to see you or being able to summon the patient for an appointment or being able to predict possible outcomes based on the results are just some ideas of how an EMR should support the clinician. Instead, far too often we see healthcare professionals calling pathology labs for results during consultations, not only creating inefficiencies but also delivering a poor patient experience.

With the abundance of data, it’s critical to work out how customised views of data interfaces can support medical teams, prioritising individual sets of data over others and facilitating patient treatment by alerting physicians to any urgent information. That is particularly the case in fast-paced and time critical environments, where urgent and abnormal results must be accessed instantly.

 

3. Making the Data Work for You

Can doctors see the data in both a macro and a micro view to analyse specific data points? Changing these data perspectives enables physicians to make better decisions for their patients and possibly deliver a better outcome.

Also, from a business perspective, an overview of the clinical data gives the ability to see how many patients are treated, the average appointment length and what profitability looks like for the practice. Meanwhile, a micro view is important to understand the inner workings of the clinic, giving substantial insights into specific trends, treatments, earnings, referrals and any observations which can help improve patient care and clinic efficiency.

There are many ways that data can assist healthcare professionals when used effectively, but the benefits of digital data go beyond physicians and support staff—it gets the patient involved.

 

4. Using Data to Activate Patients

65 percent of physicians believe patients should have some access to their EMRs, which begs the question: how does patient access to EMRs improve patient care?

Access to EMRs helps the patient to take an active role in managing their health information; it fosters a sense of responsibility while potentially allowing physicians to track their progress outside of scheduled appointments.

Facilitating that movement; many practices are installing patient portals. These portals provide access to multiple functionalities; updating their personal information, viewing pathology results and scheduling appointments which reduce unnecessary time spent by clinical staff who would typically perform these functions.

In some cases, mobile portals even allow patients to upload and send test results and referral letters directly from their mobile phones or home computers.

Yet, there is a need for caution when granting patients access to their records. By enabling measures to ensure patients are not disheartened or even scarred by the information presented and do not compromise the data, but rather facilitate the use of it, a positive relationship between the physician and the patient can be built while fostering a patient-centric approach to their healthcare.

 

Conclusion

EMR data will continue to grow with more technology in play across healthcare. Using the data effectively will not only improve the delivery of individual patient care for medical practices, but it will also impact financial performance through efficiencies.

This can be achieved through identifying bottlenecks and inefficiencies, or cutting time spent on adminstrative procedures and practices. So if you’re looking for a smarter approach to improving your financial performance using technology, download our free eBook: How To Boost The Financial Performance Of Your Medical Practice.

 

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Clinic to Cloud does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for independent professional advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. See the Clinic to Cloud Disclaimer for further information.

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Rafic Habib

Rafic Habib

Rafic Habib is the Founder and CEO of Clinic to Cloud. Rafic has spent almost two decades in the healthcare technology industry and has a unique appreciation for the level of pressure and intensity the sector falls under in both private and public practice. Rafic identified the opportunity to leverage technology to optimise practice operations, improve patient experiences and improve the financial performances of clinics.