News

How Physicians Can Use Data to Improve Patient Experiences

Some years back, administrators at at the Cleveland Clinic, seeing that patient satisfaction scores in their emergency department were consistently poor, asked department leaders what the problem was. “It’s obvious,” was the reply. “We often have more than we can handle and, as a result, wait times are too long.”

Well, of course. Wouldn’t you be frustrated if you sat around for hours waiting for someone to address whatever emergency brought you to the emergency room in the first place? Sometimes it’s painfully obvious why customers — and patients — are dissatisfied.

Except that, in this case, the waiting time assumption turned out to be dead wrong.

When the hospital actually mined for data and conducted focus groups, writes Dr. James Merlino, formerly the chief of staff of the Cleveland Clinic, “we were surprised to discover that on the scale of what’s most important to patients, wait times were the least important. Displays of concern and caring … were [what was] most important.” With that helpful data in hand, the hospital launched a new initiative: Everybody in the emergency department was urged to go out of their way to communicate with every patient. And that meant everybody. Even the janitor who happened to be working near a sitting patient might be expected to say, “I know you’ve probably been here a long time. Is there anything I can get you?”

And suddenly, patient satisfaction scores began to rise.

 

What patients want

The key takeaway in any healthcare-related situation, says data scientist Justin Gressel, “is to not presume to know what patients want.”

That’s important, adds Dr. Merlino, because what they want is often the opposite of what providers have been trained to do. For example, he says, by using “hardcore analytics,” the Cleveland Clinic determined that patients wanted providers to engage with them personally. Patients figured that providers who connected with them on a personal level would be less likely to make mistakes. But that, he says, “goes against everything providers have learned, because we’re taught to be objective and unemotional.”

Such insights, guided by data, can revolutionize the industry, says Mr. Gressel. Data can reduce costs and lead to more relevant and personalized care. By shining a light on what patients value most, and where they’re willing to make trade-offs, data can help physicians and institutions prioritize the resources that improve the patient experience.

 

More than just a friendly face

But data isn’t just about being warm and fuzzy. Sure, patients want caregivers to be friendly and accessible, but they also want efficient and appropriate treatment. To that end, some insurance companies are reaching out to physicians, helping them take advantage of the massive amounts of data they’ve compiled.

“Increasingly, our role is to support the value-based physician,” says Roy Beveridge, MD, chief medical officer of Humana. By helping physicians understand what their data shows and what Humana’s data shows, physicians can optimize care for patients, he says. But, he adds, “they have to learn how to use the data analytics we’re giving them. They have to say, This data is really important because it is telling me which patient I need to pay attention to within the population. Data and analytics are what drives the intelligence that allows them to be the best doctors they can be.”

 

A whole new level

Meanwhile, upstart insurance company Oscar Health hopes to attract customers by taking healthcare data to unprecedented heights. Oscar’s “Clinical Dashboard” is designed to give doctors a more holistic view of patients by using algorithms to synthesize virtually every aspect of each member’s history into a “readable profile of [his or her] current state of health,” says Alan Warren, the company’s chief technology officer.

The result will be that doctors will have all the information they need at their fingertips, and won’t have to chase down charts or scan through EHR data dumps. Patient satisfaction will improve, he says, because patients will no longer have to remember and recite the long lists of medications they’re taking, or undergo redundant lab tests or scans. And as more and more data are collected, the dashboard will get smarter and smarter.

 

No need to guess

As the healthcare paradigm transitions from volume to value, patient satisfaction becomes more important every day. Hospitals and other caregivers have a choice. They can try to guess, or assume, what factors most strongly influence patient satisfaction, or they can learn from the Cleveland Clinic’s example and embrace both technology and the increasingly sophisticated data it can facilitate, to cut costs, improve care, and be absolutely certain they understand what’s in their patients’ heart of hearts.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on Facebook6Pin on Pinterest0Share on LinkedIn0Email this to someone
Michael Murphy, MD
Dr. Michael Murphy is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of ScribeAmerica, LLC. He co-founded ScribeAmerica in 2004, and it is now the country’s largest and most successful medical scribe company with a staff exceeding 7200 employees operating in over 46 states nationwide. Today, ScribeAmerica is the recognized leader of the medical scribe industry and remains at the forefront of professional scribe education, training, and program management nationally. Dr. Murphy served as an Army Ranger for the 1st Ranger Battalion in Savannah, Georgia, which allowed him to gain various leadership skills along with the ability to develop standard operating procedures. He applies this to his daily duties for ScribeAmerica. Dr. Murphy has been a leader on multiple issues including scribe policy, hospital throughput, electronic medical record implementation and optimization of provider to patient ratios. His goals are to continue making all medical practice locations an environment built for an exceptional patient experience that allows providers to focus solely on patient care. Dr. Murphy received his Doctor of Medicine from St. George's University and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark. He has co-authored one textbook and is involved in 3 peer review articles.
Posted In: Future of Healthcare, General, Quality, Efficiency, Utilization On: Tuesday, 10 October, 2017

Leave A Comment

Newsletter

image

Twitter

  • A new CDC report provides a state-by-state comparison of fruit and vegetable consumption, and only 12.2% of... https://t.co/tLo3qtcdoG

    Retweet Reply Favorite (about 2 days ago)
  • Is Physician Burnout a Public Health Emergency? | Medical Scribe Journal https://t.co/pjaGXc4RLl

    Retweet Reply Favorite (about 3 days ago)
Copyright © 2004-2017. Scribe America. All Rights Reserved.