3 Keys to developing actionable insights from your healthcare data

Today’s patients – more than ever before – have choices when it comes to healthcare.

From their computer or mobile phone, they’re able to research hospitals, providers, and physicians. Because of this, healthcare organizations need to work harder – and smarter – to ensure patients choose them for their healthcare needs again and again.

At the same time, health organizations have at their disposal an incredible amount of information, both proprietary and third party data. Leveraging that data to do more than keep track of patient records has historically been a challenge. However, effectively managing and mining this data for actionable insights could result in smarter patient acquisition and retention.  

Generating the type of healthcare analytics necessary to propel a health organization forward not only takes time and cross-departmental efforts, it also requires the integration of technology to centralize and analyze data.  Let’s take a look at the steps healthcare systems should take to develop powerful insights to guide their business:

  1. Establish a defined scope.   

Think of data organization as a type of de-cluttering. The most effective way to begin a de-cluttering effort is to start with a single room or with one type of possession, such as clothes or cookware. Big data is the same way; it’s more manageable if health organizations start small, first tackling a single service line, campaign, or business challenge.

It’s critical to get stakeholders on board early on the process, not only so they buy in to the process, but also are properly trained on the software involved, whether it’s a CRM, PRM, or another centralized hub, and understand how to collect and leverage the data effectively. In addition, starting small, learning from the experience, and ultimately finding success with the insights developed builds the case for further organizational implementation.

  1. Determine the insights necessary to drive business results.

Once you’ve determined the business area to focus on, the next step is to figure out what type of analysis you want to uncover and identify the data necessary to make that insight possible. Ask your key stakeholders about their most important questions and challenges. What are the healthcare metrics that would help inform their decision-making process? How can a target audience be more effectively engaged? Where are there potentially patterns affecting business performance? The most powerful and actionable insights are closely linked to priority business objectives.

Here are four examples:

  • Business development and physician outreach teams want to figure out ways to improve physician alignment and reduce leakage. By analyzing third-party claims data and internal records, health systems can identify market share opportunity, determine physician marketing segments, target physicians that show a pattern of out-of-network referrals. With that information, the team can develop a plan to engage with and build (or repair) relationships with physicians.
  • Hospital executives would like to improve payer mix for a specific service line. The analysis would need to leverage internal data, potentially across different systems. In understanding the service line goals, marketing can create a plan to optimize growth through smarter patient acquisition strategies that target commercial payers. Tracking the service line’s payer mix over time allows marketing to understand the impact their go-to-market campaigns are having and tweak as necessary. It also is an important data point for determining service line profitability.  
  • To improve patient engagement and retention, a health organization wants to identify and segment existing patients who have engaged or previously expressed interest in a specific service area or campaign. Follow-up communication, such as an outbound call or email (depending on patient communication preference), would be sent to re-engage the patient with an eye on a conversion action (i.e. register for an upcoming event, schedule an appointment, or provide a provider referral).
  • A hospital is looking to implement more population health One of the most effective ways to do that is to identify at-risk consumers (i.e. they’re overdue for preventative screenings, have a chronic condition, or due for a vaccination). With these segmented groups, marketing teams can put together targeted multi-channel outreach and reminded care efforts. Personalized communication that recognizes the customer as an individual drives increased engagement and retention.
  1. Build clean, consistent data sets.

Accurate data collection is crucial to developing actionable insights, proper downstream attribution, and producing data analytics that the organization has confidence in. This is a two-part problem because healthcare organizations typically leverage both internal and third-party data sets and each presents unique challenges.

Internal data sets

Creating a centralized data hub for patient information is one of the most powerful data sets a health organization can create. But, the data has to be collected and recorded in a standardized way in order to be useful. As employees across different departments will likely input data, establishing unique patient IDs (many organizations use patient date of birth) and protocol for building out customer profiles is critical from the first touch onward.

Leveraging a healthcare CRM and an engagement center can help health systems collect, and organize relevant customer data that can then be used to personalize interactions, better understand physician networks, and inform other business initiatives.    

Third-party data sources

Market intelligence research, insurance claims, demographics, behavioral, and government data are just a few of the potential third-party data sets that could be relevant to health organizations. For example, demographic and behavioral data is required for propensity modeling, which results in better targeting when working to improve payer mix. In order to fully leverage these data sets and drive success, a technology solution needs to be utilized to translate the raw data into actionable intelligence.

In addition to employing a healthcare analytics platform to consolidate these disparate data sources, ensuring the quality of third-party data is essential. There are instances of claims data providers extrapolating intelligence based on a limited data set about physician activity. In contrast, health analytics providers often build a robust data set based on multiple clearing houses’ data. It stands to reason that the most current and accurate data will yield the most accurate and actionable insights. 

Final Thoughts

With the right technology and processes in place, healthcare data analytics provide insights that enable smarter business decisions, more effective programs and tactics, and optimized patient acquisition and retention. Harnessing data is not a simple endeavor, but it’s the future of healthcare. The sooner healthcare organizations begin integrating analytics across their organizations, the faster they’ll begin to realize the benefits. 

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