From improving patient outcomes to increasing clinical efficiencies, better access to data is helping healthcare organizations deliver better patient care. Data from hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, insurers, community and public health organizations, telehealth visits and wellness apps can be combined to provide a comprehensive view of patient health. Organizational data can deliver valuable insights, such as the availability of care delivery resources. Financial data can help identify opportunities to optimize reimbursements and funnel investments into areas that improve care delivery.
But all of this important data is often siloed and inaccessible or in hard-to-process formats, such as DICOM imaging, clinical notes or genomic sequencing. Healthcare organizations must ensure they have a data infrastructure that enables them to collect and analyze large amounts of structured and unstructured data at the point of care.
Here are four ways improved access to data can help healthcare organizations provide patients with better care:
1. Achieve human-centric healthcare
Human-centric healthcare—an approach that focuses on the patient’s needs, preferences and values—can deliver higher patient satisfaction and better health outcomes while addressing common inequities. For example, transportation to doctor appointments can be coordinated for patients without access to a vehicle. Personalized services, hospital-at-home care and virtual visits are more popular than ever given the surge of options driven by the pandemic. Many patients expect to be able to schedule appointments, check medical records and renew their medications online with limited interaction with their care team. In fact, 90% of healthcare provider executives surveyed by McKinsey identified healthcare consumerism as a top priority. That’s because, according to the survey, satisfied patients who use human-centric models are 28% less likely to switch providers and are 5-6 times more likely to use additional services from that same provider.
To provide this level of care, healthcare professionals must manage complex health needs that require ongoing monitoring and treatment and must collaborate on data across care teams, facilities and systems. Healthcare organizations must mobilize data stuck in organizational silos to gain a 360-degree view of the patient, also called patient 360. They must have access to high-quality data from various sources—patient medical records, social determinants of health, claims and external data that help identify patterns in individual patients and populations—to make better patient care decisions. And on top of all this, they must ensure high levels of privacy and security to protect patient data and comply with strict regulations.
2. Attract and retain more healthcare workers
The healthcare industry is facing worsening staffing shortages and widespread worker burnout. Last year, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory warning of a projected deficit of more than 3 million essential low-wage health workers in the next five years and a projected shortage of nearly 140,000 physicians by 2033. One area in which shortages are particularly acute is nursing. According to McKinsey, over 30% of surveyed nurses said they may leave their current patient care jobs in the next year, and for inpatient nurses, it’s even higher at 45%. These alarming trends have healthcare administrators on red alert.
Although better access to data alone may not be able to solve the healthcare worker crisis, it can make a significant impact. Data analytics can pinpoint what’s happening and provide leaders with actionable insights to steer effective decision-making. By collecting and analyzing data on factors such as workload, scheduling, organizational support and market rates, organizations can identify the root causes of burnout and shortages to take steps to address them. Organizations with the right data foundation can also harness advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning (ML) to augment and accelerate clinical decisions and take the technical burden off strained workers.
3. Optimize care delivery models
Healthcare providers continue moving away from fee-for-service models toward models that focus on achieving positive patient outcomes and savings. For example, outcome-based care focuses on results rather than the volume of procedures. Value-based care focuses on the quality, equity, and cost of care, tying healthcare providers’ earnings to the results they deliver for their patients. According to McKinsey, private capital inflows to value-based care companies increased more than fourfold from 2019 to 2021, showing that these newer models are gaining momentum.
Beyond the financial and patient goals, value-based care models are about fueling innovation and fostering healthy competition. It’s not only about reducing costs. Proactive engagement and innovative care delivery are central to the success of these models. The leading model—Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP)—is designed to improve patient outcomes and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations.
With one such network, Aledade, primary care doctors and their staff have been able to deliver on their promises and provide proactive and preventive care for patients while generating savings in the process. Aledade has brought more than $650 million in savings directly to community primary care practices and generated $1.2 billion in Medicare-shared savings. As a result, physician practices working with the organization have been able to address workforce shortages, develop new programs for patient outreach and care and identify new solutions to serve their communities. The data that informs the action is critical to their mission and helps address costly clinical variation.
Advanced data analytics powered by AI and ML are increasingly used to achieve positive outcomes through these models. With powerful analytics, providers can gain insights into everything from improving cost-effective preventive patient care to increasing resource efficiency within a healthcare system. To leverage advanced analytics, organizations need to eliminate data silos and centralize data from multiple sources. Importantly, they also need to enable secure access to external third-party data, such as data in applications for medical assistance, to gain a comprehensive view of patient needs.
4. Increase efficiency and decrease costs
Care delivery is becoming more costly for healthcare providers for several reasons, including inflation, labor and administrative costs and the ongoing expenses brought on by the pandemic. High prices create barriers to access for patients, leading them to delay or forgo medical care, resulting in poorer health outcomes. High costs can also lead to cuts in already strained services or staff, which can negatively impact the quality of care.
Predictive analytics can identify trends and patterns in patient population data and uncover insights that help providers better target care delivery. For example, analytics can help to reduce unnecessary testing and treatment and direct funding to areas more likely to benefit patients. Similarly, data analytics can help identify at-risk individuals needing chronic disease management services and provide preventive care, resulting in better health outcomes and reduced costs. For example, type 2 diabetes often goes untreated because it hasn’t been diagnosed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 7.2 million Americans have undiagnosed diabetes. Analytics can also help providers analyze patient satisfaction rates and understand where to funnel resources to improve patient retention rates.
A data-driven strategy
To continue delivering high-quality patient care, healthcare organizations need data and analytics to generate timely and actionable insights into clinical variation, research, workforce staffing, insurance, supply chain and logistics. A modern data platform can help them access and collect data in one place, share it securely and seamlessly, scale to handle the large amounts of information coming in from different sources and power data analysis tools and applications. Once organizations gain these capabilities, they can accelerate improvements to patient care and outcomes.
Snowflake can help healthcare providers create a data-driven strategy to improve the delivery of patient care. For more information, explore the Healthcare & Life Sciences Data Cloud.