Improve gaps in care: No more telephone game during transitions

Technical Writer

Do you remember the game "telephone" from your childhood? By the time the round was over, the sentence usually had an entirely different meaning. The result was often hilarious. In healthcare, however, this same phenomenon is disruptive to patient care, and there is nothing funny about that. Information that is lost or misinterpreted during transmission can lead to reduced care quality, readmissions and increased costs.

Typically, healthcare organizations can significantly improve outcomes and reduce costly readmissions with data analytics, ensuring that the correct information follows the patients. By using data, your hospital can improve gaps in care, even through transitions between providers and facilities, and have a competitive edge over other organizations.

Here are three ways that hospitals used data to improve communication during transitions and improve gaps in care:

1. Ascension Health reduces hospital readmissions by 10 percent with real-time data

Readmissions are bad news for everyone. They are costly to both the patient and hospital, and complications can lead to additional health issues. Health IT Analytics reported that Ascension Health reduced readmissions by 10 percent, or 150,000 readmissions, between 2012 and 2013. They used real-time data analytics to collect information from various providers and deliver insight to underlying causes, whether they were physical, emotional or economic. Instead of having to wait for published data, the hospital now uses its own real-time admission, discharge and transfer records to spot patterns, especially during transitions. Additionally, Ascension can use data analytics to search for issues that impact a patient's treatment, such as a lack of primary care or insufficient funds for a prescription copay. Instead of waiting for patients to be readmitted, the provider can proactively reach out to patients and solve problems before they cause another emergency room visit.

2. Hackensack University Medical Center improves transitions with a data portal between hospitals and long-term care facilities

Hackensack University Medical Center was having frequent issues communicating patient information to nursing homes when someone was discharged from the hospital to a long-term facility, according to Healthcare IT News. If the long-term facility was not part of Hackensack's hospital system, the documents were printed out or faxed, which requires additional time. Further, information could have been misplaced. In response, the hospital created a data portal for secure data transmission and provided it free of charge to nearby nursing homes. Now, information transmission is immediate, and all necessary data is included. Care providers at the facility can view patient information and send instant messages back to the hospital with questions. This communication previously required a separate call or email. Hospital leadership says that the new system has improved care and decreased transition time.

3. Kaiser Permanente reduces costs by $1 billion through better data exchanges

It can be challenging to pass on data in a single patient transition. Further, it can be a huge obstacle for the largest providers, such as Kaiser Permanente, which has approximately 17,791 physicians, 619 medical offices and 38 hospitals. The organization addressed this challenge with an integrated data system called Health Connect that communicates data between all of its facilities to prevent loss of information and gaps in care. McKinsey & Company reported that Kaiser cut its costs by an estimated $1 billion after releasing the system because it reduced office visits and additional lab tests. The organization has seen the most improvement in cardiovascular disease care from this approach.

Transitions are important. They often impact a patient's path to recovery. By using data to create as smooth a transition as possible, you can improve the outcome for both the patient and your facility.

Learn more about how analytics can help doctors improve patient care and other solutions for healthcare.