How Reporting & Analytics Can Make or Break Your Practice

How can any business grow and succeed without the appropriate insight into its mechanics, profitability and customer base? It can’t. But what does this have to do with the practice of medicine? These days, it’s everything…

As healthcare becomes more consumer driven, new practice models will require better insight and analytical tools to evaluate the “business” side of operations in order to keep the doors open.

Transparency in healthcare is becoming a common expectation. The new demands by the government (and increasingly more by patients) is quality of care at a valued cost with absolute transparency in pricing. To most healthcare practitioners, these demands seem impossible within current models, but especially so without the right analytics.

How is a practice supposed to evaluate its profitability, evolve in a transforming industry, serve its patients and be TRANSPARENT – if they themselves can’t collect and analyze the right data? They can’t – and many will feel the impact in the coming years if they aren’t employing the right processes or tools to understand the ins and outs of their practice’s financial performance.

A recent Dell Whitepaper titled Healthcare Analytics a Way Forward, emphasizes this expectation of transparency:

This also means a world in which patients in a hospital look and behave like consumers in a retail store is on the horizon. Innovative healthcare providers and technology companies are responding to this challenge by increasing their technological and analytic capabilities. Business intelligence, healthcare analytics and big data are moving to the center stage of healthcare transformation…”

Compatibility – seems to be a major barrier or objection to implementing the right tools for advanced reporting and analytics. Writer Michael AM Davies cites an HIMSS report in his informationweek.com article, “A 2011 report from HIMSS states that while ‘applications purchased prior to 1999 may be nearing the end of their useful lives, particularly because of their inability to support the dynamic operational process changes that [we] expect will take place through 2015,’ they expected that ‘organizations will try to extend the useful life of these environments for at least two to three more years.’”

Implementation – While a great concept in theory, employing analytics and advanced reporting tools can seem daunting to physicians considering the resources it may take to implement and train staff. Once staff is trained, and practice managers are collecting useful data – they will need to use that data to adjust processes accordingly. As Davies describes in his article, “..this can be a thorny process.” He writes, “For new software to be successful, staff members need to be trained on how to use it correctly. Moreover, after data has been analyzed, staff will need to further change their behavior to increase efficiency, according to the results of those analyses. Behavior change is time consuming, and delays results.”

As the healthcare technology market flourishes with simple, affordable, easily integrated solutions for collecting data, these challenges facing practices significantly decrease. For those that aren’t putting an emphasis on business analytics and financial performance the future looks grim in this evolving industry.