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3 ways data analytics can reduce total healthcare costs

Technical Writer

You want to provide the best care possible to each patient who walks through your hospital's doors, but you also need to keep cost of care low in order to keep those doors open and help patients for years to come. This can often be a tough balancing act for healthcare leaders. However, with the help of data analytics, your organization may be able to provide more personalized services to patients while reducing the total costs of care.

To date, these capabilities are largely underutilized: A KPMG survey of healthcare facilities found that only 10 percent of healthcare professionals use advanced data analytics tools with both analytic and predictive capabilities. By using analytics to reduce costs in ways that do not impact quality of care, you can use the savings to improve the service provided to each patient. Hospitals that do not use data analytics to reduce cost of care are effectively leaving money on the table.

The following are three ways that healthcare analysis and data analytics are currently helping medical providers find cost-saving opportunities.

Find and reduce inefficiencies

By using analytics, Beaufort Memorial Hospital in South Carolina determined that it could save an estimated $435,000 each year by discharging patients half a day early, according to U.S. News & World Report. The facility's IT department now analyzes 180 parameters and reports on key data points to plan prescriptions, follow-up visits, wheelchair transportation and room cleaning to reduce lag time between patient treatment steps. This has helped improve patient satisfaction and hospital costs.

Because Beaufort is typically at capacity, reducing the length of hospital stays by even just a few hours allows the hospital to better serve patients who are waiting for care. By setting small goals for the staff, such as assigning patients to beds in under 10 minutes, the hospital has seen an overall reduction in average stay length. Most importantly, staff support the process because the objectives are feasible.

Reduce emergency room visits

The Minnesota Department of Health recently found that 1.3 million unnecessary trips to hospitals and emergency rooms take place in the state each year, representing two out of every three ER patients and costing medical facilities $2 billion. Since this discovery, the state has started to use analytics to reduce preventable ER visits. For instance, the state pinpointed 50,000 residents that had at least four preventable ER trips in the past year due to chronic illnesses and worked with medical providers to ensure these individuals were receiving care in a primary care or community health setting. The state expects that these efforts to provide appropriate preventive care will reduce healthcare costs and overall hospital admissions since early treatment can decrease the severity of an illness.

Eliminate unnecessary testing

Healthcare Finance News reported that St. Louis Children's Hospital was able to reduce the number of $6,000 tests ordered for Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy, by leveraging data analysis. These tests are often ordered because the standard of care for infants with seizures is to first check for chromosomal microarray, which is identified with the Dravet Syndrome test. However, Dr. Nephi Walton used data analytics to determine that 0 percent of Dravet Syndrome tests for this reason returned positive in the last five years. This finding caused the hospital to modify its standard of care and reduce the number of costly tests it was running.

It can be easy for hospitals to focus on sweeping changes for cost-saving measures, but often the easiest and most effective ways to save money are by reducing small resource waste issues that add up over time. These opportunities can often be hard to find on your own, but when you use data analytics, it becomes easier to identify ways to improve your processes and save significant money. The most important part is that not only are you improving your organization with these savings, you can also provide a higher level of care to the patients you treat every day.

Transform healthcare with data analytics.