August 1, 2019

How to Use Data for Evidence-Based Improvement

In today’s era of value-based care, patient outcomes can serve as strong metrics of provider success. As a result, organizations are managing new mandates to collect patient-reported outcomes (PROs) at increased rates. Improved data collection can give providers greater insight into clinical practice and how patients are progressing throughout their episodes of care. 

The medical field has long been a champion of advancing evidence-based practice. However, with an influx in data collection, healthcare organizations must ask themselves, “how is our organization using data to drive change?”

This question is difficult to answer and often involves a dedicated research or quality improvement team to tackle. In the first part of this series, we’ll focus on strategies for data collection. Force supports organizations in various research capacities to ensure patient data is collected appropriately to make informed decisions related to patient care and risk mitigation. To assess if your organization’s data is actionable, we recommend considering the following:

Is your data easily accessible?

Electronic data can often be difficult to isolate and download, making it challenging for providers to locate the variables they need. Conversely, outcomes collected via pen and paper cannot be easily aggregated and evaluated across the patient population overall. Today, data comes from disparate locations, including digital and paper-based, making it almost impossible to aggregate into meaningful trends. The ability to compile datasets electronically into a singular source is essential to acting on research or quality improvement goals.

Is your dataset(s) flexible enough to view trends over time?

Digitization allows for data to be collected more frequently. For example, as patients log onto Force every day, they are asked to rate their current pain from 1-10. This data can be sequenced over time and presented back to care teams, providing valuable insights into how different patient cohorts are recovering over time. But it’s not as simple as choosing a platform with the singular purpose of collecting PROs. Patient engagement platforms create new opportunities to extend provider reach and allow patients to access questionnaires in the same place they access their personalized recover tools. Force helps organizations achieve >75% collection rates, while maintaining or improving the all-important patient experience.

Can you view data in real time? 

Platforms like Force enable users to view critical data in real time, allowing providers to attend to patient concerns before they escalate into complications. A patient-facing platform is meaningless unless it enables informed decision-making for providers without disrupting workflow. For example, a provider may want to know how a patient is responding to a certain pain medication in order to evaluate whether a new treatment plan should be considered. With access to the full suite of a patient’s health history, PRO responses, and other data (e.g. steps, pain, photos, videos, messaging etc.), benchmarked across similar patients in Force, action can be taken within minutes to determine whether follow-up steps are necessary. 

How can I use my data to drive change?

As the healthcare market moves toward reimbursement for the complete episode of care, it is important that providers use data to better understand the patient journey. When organizations select partners that allow them to critically examine trends in their data, they may start to work toward standardization of best practices leading to cost savings, strong PROs, and high levels of patient satisfaction. In the next part of this series, we’ll discuss our work with academic medical centers that are expert at developing processes to drive change.