Healthcare information technology enables clinics to gather and analyze an abundance of clinical and administrative data, but managing and using this information is challenging, especially without a reliable medical data management system.
Here is an introduction to medical data management systems and how they benefit physicians.
Make More Informed Decisions
Private practices collect a wealth of information in several categories, including:
- Appointment Scheduling
- Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
- Health Surveys
- Insurance Claims
- Physician Notes
- Test Results
If clinical and administrative information is contained in separate databases that aren’t integrated, providers and personnel won’t have all the data they need to make informed decisions about patient care, finances and the future of the practice.
A medical data management system lets the clinician and his or her staff access important details via one platform so they can be confident crucial details won’t be overlooked. These systems not only allow physicians to guarantee they’re reimbursed promptly and appropriately but also help them track patient outcomes and spot inefficiencies that can affect the health of their practice.
How to Use the Data
Medical data management systems help physicians and their employees generate reports that provide useful figures. For example, the clinician can easily track how successful a particular medication is in reducing hypertension in male patients over the age of 35 or find out if their efforts to streamline front office operations have decreased average wait times as much as they had hoped.
Reporting features can alert the provider and his or her staff if the practice’s net collection rate drops below a certain threshold or if the claim denial rate rises above a predetermined amount. The clinic can take immediate action to address and correct higher-than-average denial rates.
The data the practice gathers also can be used to make changes to improve cash flow. By simply pressing a few keys, physicians and personnel can find out which insurers pay quickly and which ones try their patience. Looking at the percentage of patients enrolled in each plan can help them decide if it’s a good idea to drop an insurer that consistently pays late.
Evaluating the information the medical data management system collects can help clinicians and their employees determine how well the practice is meeting goals. Some information systems even allow a clinic to compare how well it’s doing against other practices in the area or in the country. Setting benchmarks can help providers and personnel ensure the reports they run are meaningful.
Although benchmarks will vary from practice to practice, all clinics should consider measuring these core metrics:
- Accounts payable and receivable
- Number of employees
- Patient count (separate counts for new, established and hospitalized patients)
- Patient satisfaction statistics
- Supply inventory
- Visits per day
Setting baselines helps make sure the physician can promptly identify a drop in new patients and helps keep spending in check. When supply expenditures exceed a certain percent of the total budget, the provider or clinic manager will be able to spot the problem immediately and devise a plan to rein in spending.
Patient compliance alerts can also help clinicians head off problems that can lead to rehospitalizations and poor patient outcomes. Physicians may want their reports to highlight high-risk patients who haven’t refilled prescriptions promptly or haven’t scheduled follow-up visits. Once the provider has these details, his or her staff can make follow-up calls to gently remind patients about the importance of taking medications and receiving regular care.
NOTE: Because reimbursements are increasingly tied to standards set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, it makes sense to establish benchmarks that correspond to the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS).
A practice’s data offers a treasure trove of valuable information about the clinic, patients and finances. Investing in a medical data management system will help you ensure you take full advantage of these crucial figures.
Are you concerned about rising expenses? Read our free resource, Stop the Budget Bleed: How Private-Practice Physicians Can Reduce Spend.