Data From Expected—and Unexpected—Sources

By Clark Carpenter

Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center (Southeastern Med) is an acute healthcare center serving approximately 4,000 inpatients and 100,000 outpatients annually.  As its IT department began to ask for more information and new types of reports, Southeastern Med knew its healthcare-specific business intelligence solution would not be able to support these requests. The hospital needed a platform that could prepare and integrate real-time information with static historical data from a wide variety of sources.  It also needed a way to make its vast stores of data more meaningful and actionable, as its current reporting was impeding the discovery of adverse conditions. Forming meaningful and collective dashboards using the vast stores of data allowed the organization to take advantage of opportunities and quickly head off risks.

Southeastern Med turned to next-generation managed analytics technology from Datawatch Corporation to help track and report on hospital infections, monitor physician performance and identify trends in treatments.

A more complete view of patient, provider and hospital data

Through the Datawatch Managed Analytics Platform, Southeastern Med can now create and share powerful visualizations that draw upon previously inaccessible data. In place of static charts and graphs based on limited historical data, the technology provides an interactive, intuitive visual analysis environment that lets users quickly access and prepare any data from any source to identify patterns and outliers, get answers on the fly and gain new insights in true real time.

For example, the hospital’s endoscopy unit is now saving approximately 15 hours each week by no longer generating limited, manual reports on the procedures performed. Instead, the Datawatch platform allows users to create rich dashboard visualizations in minutes. Not only does this save time, it helps reveal unexpected outliers and trends that provide greater visibility into treatment administration. For example, the visualizations uncovered a large discrepancy in the amount of time it took for a particular procedure to be completed on a female versus a male. This has spurred additional questions by the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer as to why this may be.

The hospital also uses dashboards to monitor physician performance. Datawatch enables hospital administrators to create scorecards and visualize costs and success rates associated with individual providers, as well as identify ways to improve best practices. A dashboard created for the hospital’s CEO to track physician workflow includes counts of procedures and dollar amounts associated with the physician. It can be sorted by procedure, cost and physician or physician group and is an important tool for tracking workflow trends over time.  Among other things, the dashboards identified where physicians were sending and receiving referrals. Through this identification, Southeastern Med saw that the patients’ locations did not relate to where they were referring patients for lab tests and other services. Using this information, Southeastern Med realized the potential need for an outpatient lab clinic to better serve patients within its geographical area. Having this clinic means patients’ lab results do not need to be transferred back to Southeastern Med from outside entities, thus improving the continuity of care for the patient.

Another dashboard tracks the number of procedures taking place in Diagnostic Imaging. Here, the employee performing the test is tied in to the hospital’s Time Keeping system.  Besides helping to predict staff requirements, this also tracks why Person X can perform Y total procedures while another employee may perform very differently.  As a result, the hospital is able to better understand why a variance exists and how to address the discrepancy. For example, Southeastern Med’s Radiology Department was basing revenue on seeing a patient every 40 minutes for mammograms. During the build out of these dashboards, the hospital determined that patients were not being seen at this rate.  Looking more closely, it realized that the culprit was a large number of cancellations. This led to the purchase of automated appointment reminder software to reduce the number of cancellations in order to increase the ratio of procedures to staff hours. 

Southeastern Med has also developed a dashboard to track Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) for Meaningful Use (MU). This is paying off nicely for targeting physicians for encouragement to meet MU2 as well as MU3.  This dashboard has enabled the hospital to identify physicians that are doing well along with those that may need additional training to improve their CPOE utilization. The CEO and IT have been able to recognize efforts of those physicians with high CPOE utilization as well as work with  physicians with low CPOE utilization to improve their scores. In return, Southeastern Med has met criteria for Stage 2 and is now monitoring for Stage 3 compliance for 2016 attestation.

Southeastern Med’s new visual analytics platform has enabled it to mine its data in ways that it could not before. Going forward, the ability to quickly and easily visualize data will continue to have a significant impact on the quality of healthcare Southeastern Med can deliver as more reporting and visualizations are developed.

Clark Carpenter is Infrastructure Supervisor for Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center.

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