As they’ve demonstrated in countless other industries, consumers are open to embracing greater use of data analytics and digital tools in healthcare, but they often need a little bit more support to get there.

For example, an Accenture survey of nearly 8,000 consumers revealed that the majority were willing to obtain virtual care from traditional healthcare providers, and more than 80% reported that they trusted hospitals and doctors to keep their healthcare information safe.

Given that consumers have long been comfortable with tech giants such as Amazon and Netflix employing advanced analytics to gain insights into current buying and watching habits to predict future behavior – and boosting consumer engagement and consumer satisfaction in the process – it’s hardly a surprise that they’d expect their healthcare providers to likewise adopt digital tools.

Similarly, providers themselves are generally enthusiastic about leveraging data to enhance the patient journey and efficiency of their practices; they just need an intuitive way of generating actionable, predictive insights from their existing data. From dominant academic health systems to small practices, most providers are already swimming in data they collect from electronic medical records (EMRs), scheduling and care coordination systems, virtual health apps and patient surveys.

Rather than more data, providers are looking for better ways to make sense of the data they already have to improve patient care, in addition to finances and operations. Advanced analytics can help physicians gain data-driven insights at the right time in the workflow to improve treatment decisions and patient experience, as well as clinical and financial outcomes. (With that said, it should be acknowledged that providers experience several substantial barriers to adopting advanced analytics and patient engagement technologies that should not be overlooked or minimized, such as limited funding, lack of reimbursement from payors and other technical challenges.)

Nonetheless, here are several instances along the typical patient journey where both large and small provider groups can use advanced analytics to deliver more patient-centered care.

Scheduling appointments
Even something as simple and routine as the appointment-scheduling process can be improved through the use of advanced analytics, enhancing the care experience for patients while boosting efficiency for providers. Analytics can help providers suggest patients’ most convenient times for visits, identify the best clinician for patients to see, determine the appropriate pathways for patients’ care and prioritize appointments. For providers, the good news is that much of the information to support these functions is based on demographic, financial, clinical and personal data that in many cases has already been collected from patients.

Additionally, by collecting and using social determinants of health data, providers can help patients overcome transportation challenges and mobility issues by suggesting options for virtual visits or ride-sharing services for office visits, for example.

Visiting with patients
Advanced analytics can help clinicians overcome EMR dashboard fatigue, which is induced by overly complex navigation and information overload from EMR systems that divert providers’ attention from patients during office or virtual visits. Instead, analytics systems can help physicians make sense of the mess of patient data in EMRs by condensing large amounts of information into succinct metrics, such as risk scores that quantify the likelihood of patients developing future complications from various conditions.

Further, advanced text-analysis technologies such as Natural Language Processing can help clinicians extract deeper insights from massive amounts of patient information, enhancing their contextual understanding of patient conditions and risks and enabling them to focus on the highest priorities during each patient encounter.

Conducting post-visit follow-up
Because patients often see multiple specialists and communication between providers can be hit-or-miss, their primary care physicians sometimes remain unsure of whether they’ve followed up on post-visit recommendations like filling prescriptions or scheduling physical therapy. Advanced analytics can help physicians see the holistic view of a patient’s care history, informing predictions about patients’ possible next actions and enabling physicians to develop more comprehensive and precise care plans. These insights help providers improve and simplify the process of conducting post-visit follow-up.

Collecting payment
For providers and patients, the billing and payment collection processes have the potential to bring errors and delays that lead to frustration and inefficiency. Analytics offer an avenue of relief, helping providers identify anomalies in coding, billing, and payments before they lead to negative experiences that create patient dissatisfaction, accelerating claims through the system and leading to prompter payment to providers.

Physicians and patients both have an appetite for infusing more data-driven decision-making into healthcare. For providers, the question is how to surface that data at the right point in the workflow to enable evidence-supported insights that improve patient care and experience. Every step of the patient journey would benefit from the insights generated from advanced analytics.

Photo: goir, Getty Images



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