In Part 1 of this two-part series, Benefits of Information Governance in Healthcare, I focused on how healthcare providers can manage, and thus protect, patient information. Part two presented here focuses on how improved data coordination leads to better patient outcomes and improved financial results for providers.
For me it is troubling that the provider side of healthcare has not embraced information governance as a core function. With HIPAA, lengthy and costly litigation, cybersecurity concerns, and even the daily struggle to manage patient care, it should be clear that providers need to adopt solid information governance practices.
How better coordination between data sources with data analytics improves patient outcomes.
Over the years hospitals and emergency rooms have been practicing “cookbook medicine.” Let's say for example that a patient is admitted with light-headedness. Following that cookbook protocol, a standard battery of tests is run to identify the causes of his or her symptoms.
With improved data analytics and better coordination between data sources however, the health care provider instead could take into account different taxonomies and synonyms from two different records: one that describes a patient as having “high blood pressure;” another that describes “elevated blood pressure.” If there’s a match, the provider has a more complete patient history to inform the next course of action.
By using information governance best practices that point to, or create, one consistent patient database with structured record keeping, providers could come to a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. This improves the patient experience and outcomes—and makes the provider more efficient.
What we’re talking about is better medical records management that, ultimately, increases healthcare affordability. There is less wasted time to find notes, whether in the exam room or the operating room. Proper information management also should increase patient safety because better information is used to make more informed decisions.
The best way to fight inefficiency in healthcare is with solid information governance.
For example, I worked with one healthcare organization that spent time analyzing patient record notes, focusing on such variables as time spent with a patient and demographic information about that patient. This organization had upgraded its medical record portal. It defined different metadata fields that had to be populated: check-in time, patient and doctor interaction time, check-out time, along with the standard diagnosis codes and procedure code type information.
After a few months, the healthcare organization analyzed patient encounters and found (unsurprisingly) that there was a lot of inefficiency in scheduling procedures. Once the organization finished an analysis, it used data-driven decision making to change its scheduling model, resulting in a more efficient office experience. Patients got more time with their doctors while spending less time in the waiting room. Doctors actually attended to more patients on any given day.
Every operational or medical inefficiency adds cost that are passed on to the patient or insurance company. It doesn’t matter if the inefficiency comes from people, processes or technology. Lower costs for the provider mean lower costs for patients, which gives a competitive advantage to any provider with great information governance practices.
Good information management's triple positive result: better profits, less cost pressure and better health outcomes.
While the top priority always will be patient care, the medical industry will face cost pressures and competition for the foreseeable future. Information governance, when done correctly, will positively impact the bottom line, which can improve patient health and the patient experience.
Information governance in healthcare yields a triple positive result: more profits, less cost pressure and better patient outcomes. With improved governance, there will be a better patient experience across the entire spectrum of medicine.