Expert Perspective

June 10, 2018


Nick Gettas, MD - Chief Medical Officer of CareAllies

How to proactively drive cost rather than cost driving you (crazy).

Whether we notice it or not, data is becoming more and more integrated in our daily lives both inside and outside our offices. We use data to estimate what time we should leave for work, we use it to decide the best time to buy an airline ticket and we use it to predict whether our weekend plans will be affected by rain. Data helps us be better prepared to make more informed decisions and allows us to “predict, prioritize and prevent”.

As health care providers, we already use data to make decisions every day, but how can we enhance the way we use data to make an even bigger impact on our patients’ wellbeing? What data do we have access to and how can we utilize it to its full potential?

Data analytics can be broken down into four types:

  • Descriptive analytics – what happened?
  • Diagnostic analytics – why did it happen?
  • Predictive analytics – what will happen?
  • Prescriptive analytics – how can we make it happen?

We asked participants which stage of their analytics journey they believed they were in. The majority of attendees indicated the diagnostic stage.

This isn’t surprising considering that many of us are just starting to understand the power of the data we are collecting as we care for our patients. And as we start to understand the power, we learn more about how we can utilize additional sources of information. The combination of electronic health record and claims data is a good start, but we will continue to see a more diverse set of data as we improve population health and value-based care efforts.

The majority of webinar attendees agreed that risk stratification is a key piece of the data puzzle. We have the tools to identify patients with a higher risk of future complications, and patients who are over-utilizing resources, and we can offer them additional support and education to better manage their health.

Beyond identifying patients who may need additional support, we can use data to better understand their behavior and the specialists and facilities they are visiting. How can we transform our practice and improve processes based on this information? Are admission and readmission rates high for a subset of your population? Why? Data can help you understand the why, and even small changes to processes can help you move the needle.

You can start by focusing targeted strategies on the patients with the highest risk. Ask yourself. How can we improve patient access to the right care at the right time? How can we work with external facilities to improve the sharing of data to improve the transition of care? What does data tell you about the facilities in your service area? Timely and appropriate interventions can make a big impact on care, and the more data you utilize, the quicker these interventions will become. This is how we can work on moving from the diagnostic phase to the predictive phase of our journeys.

As we find new ways to use the data we are provided, we should continue to measure outcomes, watch trends and make adjustments. What’s working and what isn’t? What data sources are available to us that we may not be utilizing, and how can we better utilize the data we already have? We have to be open to change in this new health care landscape and remind ourselves that what sometimes feels like a step away from face-to-face time is actually helping us make better decisions. Let’s take advantage of the data in front of us and help our patients avoid a storm we could have predicted.

Missed the ‘Converting Data to Actionable Information’ webinar? Watch the replay!

Valuable Insights is a complimentary virtual education series designed to help independent physicians navigate the challenges of today’s health care environment. Browse the full Valuable Insights schedule, and sign up to receive notifications about future webcasts. Valuable Insights webcasts will be posted monthly on the CareAllies Insights page in 2018. Please note that topics and schedule are subject to change.

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