How Data Transparency Leads to Value in Health Care

April 06, 2016 by Anne-Frances Hutchinson

There’s still quite a bit to be shared from Gartner's Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit that we attended last month. We particularly enjoyed this close-up view of how one healthcare innovator used analytics to drive quality outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Session: Creating Healthcare Analytics to Drive Increased Value

About Charlton: Charlton Park, MBA, MHSM, is the Chief Analytics Officer for University of Utah Health Care (UUHC) and directs the analytics efforts of the organization. In this capacity, he works collaboratively with hospital administration and health sciences leadership in support of various initiatives driving increased value and alignment. He and his team work closely with clinical, operational and financial leaders throughout the organization providing analytic support. (Source: University of Utah Health Care)

The patient satisfaction conundrum

Based in Salt Lake City, UUHC is the only academic health care system in the Intermountain West. The integrated network of hospitals, health centers and clinics serves patients in Utah and five surrounding states, discharging 30,000 patients and facilitating up to 1.5 million outpatient visits each year. Today, UUHC is one of the country’s top-ranked systems – but that wasn’t always the case.

UUHC’s data scientists were looking for ways to add value with analytics, and in turn reduce costs and increase quality. The team set out to create transparency to data. “In healthcare that’s a little bit of a new frontier because people and physicians aren’t always open to some of this transparency,” Charlton explained. In 2011, with patient satisfaction scores in the lower quartile, the data team developed an improvement strategy that would create data transparency to the patient satisfaction scores. “Our providers didn’t even know what was being measured, who it was about, and what they could do about it,” he added. The effort was a failure.

The missing piece was an organization-wide call to action, driven by the system’s leadership, that could trickle down to all of the system’s departments, divisions and providers. That direction absolutely had to come from the top of the organization. Charlton described the realization this way: “If the doctors don’t see the light of why something’s important, you can throw many millions of dollars at it and get nothing out of it. Creating value in healthcare requires the doctors’ focus, support and engagement.”

Creating value through physician engagement

Leadership explained to their providers that transparency would allow them to learn from one another, identify opportunities for change, and create a supportive environment to move the entire organization forward.

The team used the collected data to better understand which divisions and departments were doing better than others, and what local lessons could be derived from those higher patient satisfaction scores and spread throughout the system.

A key component of provider engagement was quality. “Cost alone just won’t drive the engagement, although we’ve made huge strides there,” he said. “Our surgeons and our providers really want to do what’s best for their patients, so we continue to concentrate on using our analytic tools to push data that they want to see and are really concerned about, coupled with the cost data that we think is strategically important as well.”

Involving the providers in the analytics development process has added to their success. “If we’re able to measure things that are important to them along with things that are important to the institution, we have the most success,” Charlton said. To bolster their efforts, UUHC appointed Chief Value Officers (CVO) throughout the system. Charlton described the CVOs as “energetic, interested, data-savvy physicians within each of our departments and divisions that are the champions for analytics and value within the organization.” CVOs are the go-to doctors that help develop scorecards, bring understanding about clinical issues to the data team, help identify the most meaningful metrics to measure, and get other physicians on board.

Meaningful measures as successful drivers

  1. Creating data transparency resulted in better survey participation and improved data quality and reliability
  2. Internal transparency led to individual and peer transparency
  3. Public online reviews encouraged provider level online reviews
  4. Individual provider scorecards drove positive, comparative learning experiences for providers

Today, UUHC’s patient satisfaction scores are in the 85th percentile. Half of the system’s providers rank in the top 10, and 26 percent are in the top one percent. That’s the power of data transparency, physician engagement, and provider support. To find out more about Charlton’s work with UUHC, go here. At Captricity, we leverage the power of data access to help drive healthcare organizations to their goals. Watch our latest video for an introduction to what our industry leading technologies can bring to your healthcare organization.

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