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One should not ignore or underestimate the importance of data in healthcare. Data empowers doctors and facilities to learn about patients, track their health conditions and medications, monitor critical stats, share information with other providers, specialists and organizations, including insurance companies, and deliver improved patient care.
The more data is available about a patient, along with the ease with which you collect, store, access, and share or exchange that data, the better the patient’s outcome. Data lets you organize and analyze patient information to identify potential co-morbidities or contraindications. Having good and complete data empowers patients to take control of their own health.
Better data collection facilitates better reporting, allowing healthcare centers and providers to identify areas for improvement in both patient care and satisfaction. Better patient experiences lead to increased referral rates via word-of-mouth recommendations.
Data reporting can also provide critical statistically important information for sectors of healthcare that depend on federal or state funding. It can also help in times of crisis, allowing population health to be tracked and the spread of disease to be stopped in its tracks.
Improved data collection and reporting can maximize reimbursement and incentive payments through various programs designed to improve healthcare for marginalized populations. Reporting on various health measures can increase eligibility for incentive programs, leading to greater revenues year over year.
Types of Data Collected Across Healthcare Verticals
Health data ranges from population health info from census and survey reports to claims data and insurance data from hospitals, vendors, insurers and other companies.
First-party patient health data such as medical history data and diagnostic data (including labs and imaging) helps providers create a clear picture of a patient’s health; this may come directly from a patient, in the course of an exam, or from another healthcare provider.
Healthcare providers often deal with highly sensitive data, such as Personally Identifying Information (PII) or Payment Processing Information (PPI). Personal health data, including information about a patient’s condition, prognosis, medication and mental state are legally protected, and must be gathered, stored, and shared in accordance with federal and state laws.
Cybersecurity is key when digitizing healthcare records or using a cloud provider, so ensure the partner you choose has standards that meet or exceed industry best practices before entrusting data to a third party for safekeeping.
How Healthcare Data Is Collected
Healthcare data comes from a variety of sources. A patient may supply it verbally or in written format on new patient forms. Alternatively, it may come from a pre-existing electronic health record (EHR) that has been accessed through a health information exchange (HIE).
Some data comes from using patient surveys or feedback forms to help find out the level of patient satisfaction and to guide future actions by the healthcare organization. Other sources of data include research studies that can help doctors spot patterns and symptoms for more accurate diagnostics.
Finally, more and more data is coming in from devices connected to the Internet of Things, or IoT. Wearable devices can deliver vital health data from a patient directly to their doctor or specialist, keeping track of heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar and sleep patterns. Technology is constantly improving data collection methods and making it easier to get real-time health data that can save lives.
Steps for Improving Data Collection in Healthcare
These steps can help improve your organization’s healthcare data collection practices and go beyond that to facilitate secure sharing and exchange of data.
Inventory the data you have already collected
What data are you currently collecting? Review your current database and look for duplicate records, mis-formatting, or different file types. Standardize your existing files and pinpoint where your staff constantly must ask for additional information to fill in gaps in your data.
Identify gaps in your data that could be causing issues with patient care
Specifically, look for missing data that impacts patient care. Not having a preferred mode of contact on file can slow down following up with a patient for important updates on lab results. Lack of current insurance information can cause confusion during billing processes.
Develop ways to collect that data
Include steps in the patient journey that auto-generate the data you need. This can include having patients complete a quick data update when they arrive for a new appointment, or sending one question surveys that include a data verification step to ensure you have the latest information.
Educate all staff on data collection practices
Everyone on your staff should focus on patient experience and patient satisfaction. Querying a patient appropriately for missing data then recording the information into your system is key to maintaining a clean, accurate and up-to-date data set that is shareable for patient care.
Integrate your data across platforms
Part of having a standardized set of data is the ability to integrate across platforms and improve communication between patients and their providers, providers and specialists, and providers and insurers. A data integration partner can help you ensure that all of your patient information is both easily accessible and fully secure, helping you avoid information blocking penalties while safeguarding patient privacy.
Take action based on your data
The more data you have, the more you can do with it. Your upgraded data can provide you with a wealth of information about your patient base. This can empower you to streamline workflows, improve patient communications and experience, enhance reporting and increase revenues.
How Tangible can help improve data collection practices
Tangible is your ideal healthcare integration partner, providing connectivity for clinical integrated networks, quality reporting, and integration platform as a service solutions (IPaaS) to help you improve data collection processes, streamline data storage and sharing, and protect your data for heightened standards of patient care and maximized patient satisfaction. Request a demo today.