The Next Step in Using Data to Cut Readmissions: Embedding Analytics in EHRs

By now hospitals and health systems are recognizing the power of data to drive improved outcomes, such as reduced readmissions. One of the challenges in applying data to healthcare processes is organizing the massive amounts of data into easily accessible information. Stephanie Alexander, CEO of healthcare data analytics company PeraHealth, explains how hospitals that succeed in reducing readmissions will need to embed data analytics in electronic health records.

Stephanie Alexander is CEO of healthcare data analytics company PeraHealth.Data analytics: Unlocking the mystery of patient readmissions
A key function of data analytics is that it translates data on discreet patients and situations into trends that can help healthcare providers target interventions to certain groups of patients. For example, data analytics can indicate which populations of patients are most at risk for readmission based on their diagnosis, demographics and comorbid conditions, among other factors, Ms. Alexander says. In addition, information about where the patient is being discharged — whether to home, a skilled nursing facility or other provider — can change the patient's risk of readmission and therefore guide providers' decisions on how to educate the patient. "Analytics can provide some predictability to focus efforts on the vital few patients that have [a higher likelihood] of being readmitted," she says.

Embedding analytics in EHRs
For analytics to be an effective tool in the fight against unnecessary readmissions, it needs to be easily accessible to providers so it to be used in real time when physicians and staff are caring for patients. Embedding data analytics into EHRs can enable all providers on a care team — from the nurse to case manager to physician — to understand the patients' risk factors for readmission and adapt their treatment accordingly, Ms. Alexander says.

For example, knowing a patient's risk for readmission at the bedside can enable the care team early on to prepare for enhanced case management and discharge planning. Furthermore, data analytics embedded in an EHR can help hospitals reduce not only readmissions, but also unplanned admissions into higher levels of care, such as critical care units, according to Ms. Alexander.

"It's critical for us to find ways to embed these analytics real time into the electronic health record so that it's not an additional step for providers to make the right decisions," she says. "The next generation of hospitals really needs these analytics embedded in the electronic health record so there is much more timely and accurate information."

Stephanie Alexander, who built Premier’s informatics business over 23 years, in 2012 was named CEO of PeraHealth, formerly Rothman Healthcare Corp., which delivers pioneering software that leverages data in EHRs to illuminate subtle, often-undetected trends in patients’ health in easy-to-read graphs.

More Articles on Hospital Readmissions:

6 Recent Findings on Hospital Readmissions
Looking Beyond the 4 Walls of the Hospital to Reduce Readmissions: The Value of Post-Acute Care Hospitalists

20 Statistics on Hospital Readmissions

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