How to Improve Clinical Outcomes and Sustain them?

Abhinav Shashank
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“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”  – William A. Foster.

 

Healthcare is on the brink of a major transition, and the only way to see how far we have reached down the road of providing quality care is if we are achieving the necessary outcomes. To identify the areas for improvements and sustain growth, a continuous monitoring of outcomes to maintain an effective quality improvement program is paramount, but overwhelming. But what constitutes these outcomes? How are these outcomes measured? Is everyone on the same page when it comes to outcomes improvement?

 

The Triple Aim of IHI

Most of us are familiar with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim :

  • Improving the patient experience of care
  • Improving the health of populations
  • Reducing the per capita cost of health care

The Triple Aim lays down the foundation for the improvement of healthcare outcomes. Igniting change and outcomes improvement goes beyond establishing an analytics platform to looping in people who actually deliver care and considering their feedback. Adoption of data analytics and putting the data-driven insights to create best practices are two essentials for sustaining healthcare outcomes.

 

Good Data Driving Improvements

The healthcare industry is working well on converting raw data into meaningful insights to better their practices and outcomes. The ability to extract meaningful, actionable learning from this wealth of raw information is the key to improving quality and patient outcomes. Case in point, a California-based value-focused organization manages between 26 and 44 petabytes of data from EHRs alone, serving more than 11.3 million lives.

Some of the ways how good data improves outcomes are:

  • Meaningful insights: Big data pertaining to patients holds lots of valuable information, and with the right processing tools, clinicians and hospitals can leverage data to make informed decisions to improve quality. 
  • Observing the bigger picture: Distributed datasets make it difficult to completely understand a patient’s needs and proactively reach out to them. Once data is integrated, monitoring and analyzing a holistic patient view helps pinpoint areas for improvements. 
  • Efficiency in performance: Creating a comprehensive repository to allow health systems to see how their organization is performing on a macro level. Data analytics can help providers learn about their financial and clinical performance and learn how to receive maximum reimbursements.
  • Valuable feedback: Clinicians can work on improving their care practices once presented with trusted, accurate, and meaningfully synthesized data that represents their performance and prescribes the improvements needed.

 

The Value of a Good Leader

In any system, a good leader is always needed to guide the team. A quality driven program is no different. Here’s what leaders should keep in mind while driving improved outcomes:

  • An understanding of a need for a new different approach and adapting to new cultural changes.
  • Bringing in the physicians and care coordinators on the frontlines.
  • Ensuring consistency and protocol adherence in clinical workflows.  

 

Challenges in Effective Outcomes Improvement 

  • Lack of resources: Healthcare organizations frequently find themselves either looking for insufficient resources or looking more relevant information to identify ability and areas of outcomes improvement.
  • Lack of analytic and technical know-how: Data analytics and technical skills is a must to analyze specific metrics, clinical information and healthcare with booming sources of information and lack of data scientists makes data grooming a challenge.
  • Poor data quality: Data when comes in from multiple sources is bound to be imperfect and unstandardized and the data must be reconciled before being analyzed to achieve the quality that is acceptable across the board.

 

Outcomes Improvements Reap Exponential Rewards

Healthcare, being the dynamic industry as it is, needs organisations to meticulously keep working towards value-based care and thereby improve their outcomes. Outcomes improvement is a continuous journey where the primary focus of improving the quality of care meets prudent cost benchmarks. Healthcare organizations should develop clear goals and defined aims centered around continuously monitoring the impacts and keep them going over time. Delivering timely and quality care to patients is the endgame in healthcare, and organizations should work towards an environment of continued improvement where driving better health outcomes in a value-based ecosystem is the prime and only goal.

 

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