Author: Maxwell Healthcare Associates
Posted: August 22, 2023
As the post-acute industry continues to grow, the discussion of longstanding success and expansion enters the forefront of agency goals. As operations streamline, admissions increase, and payor relations reach a good standing, many agencies reach a crossroads where it feels as if there is nowhere left to grow. Many times, this assumed stagnation is a result of one shortcoming: the lack of a comprehensive data collection and analysis program. The implementation and utilization of a strong data program in the post-acute world is one of the most important steps toward longevity. Amid constantly changing regulations, strong data empowers agencies in identifying cashflow issues, remaining compliant, and analyzing sources of good and bad payor debt.
The importance of data analysis in post-acute care is often ignored due to high cost or time requirements, yet it is an essential aspect of any successful agency. From optimizing efficiency to supporting comprehensive quality initiatives, confident data is the backbone of patient-driven decision making. With underutilized data, agencies are unprepared for operational issues or financial shortcomings.
A full adoption of a strong data program begins with access, but it requires many more steps to reach full optimization within the agency setting. Complete utilization of data requires a robust infrastructure, collaboration, and consistent documentation; all supported by a company culture that prioritizes data-backed decision-making.
The nature of the post-acute industry constantly requires providers to remain wary of operational processes to ensure consistently achieved compliance amid the ever-changing stakes. An agency that continuously adapts to changes remains ahead of other competitors while establishing itself as a leader in the industry. Remaining ahead and compliant leads to improved payor relationships and CMS funding while protecting operations from scrutiny through audits and cuts. An in-depth data program empowers this transition through:
Identification of Trends, Patterns, and Correlations: Although correlation isn’t necessarily causation, access to continuously compounded data provides cyclical clarity that assists in reinforcing administrative decisions.
Driving Quality Improvement Initiatives: By leveraging data, providers optimize resource utilization, develop personalized care plans, and continuously monitor clinician performance to enhance patient outcomes and satisfaction.
Optimizing Reimbursements: It's no secret that remaining complaints are a constant worry amongst providers in the industry. A comprehensive data collection process assists the back office in identifying gaps and possible red flags. With a compliant agency, reimbursements skyrocket from qualified payors.
Traditionally, when considering an overhaul of data collection efforts, most of the focus is given to profit and cost analysis. Although these are incredibly important metrics, there are many commonly ignored metrics that have the potential to rapidly increase the success of the agency. Although common revenue points and operational insights are of utmost importance, specific patient-centric data is instrumental in creating functioning care plans and roadmaps. Patient-reported outcomes and patient engagement scores act as a comprehensive start point for overhauling tailored care plans. Satisfaction increases when an agency invests focus into actively considering patient feedback. This ultimately improves conditions for patients, leading to increased referrals and growth of operations.
Similarly, agencies can use data to improve the quality of life for employees. Using staff engagement and job satisfaction data, operations teams are empowered to improve the everyday processes of employees. Overall, this key data point is instrumental in decreasing burnout while fostering a positive culture and increasing retention. People-focused data points are usually ignored within the post-acute space due to their qualitative nature, but with proper training and focus, the data empowers a future of streamlined operational harmony. In a perfect world, full synergy between qualitative and quantitative data exists to optimize every step of agency processes. MHA leadership prioritizes this synergy through the Engagement Satisfaction Index (ESI) for data-driven decisions. The ESI is an advanced indicator that takes subjective qualitative analysis, such as employee engagement or patient satisfaction and weighs it against quantitative cost analysis. This KPI then illustrates a full overview of both sides of the spectrum, providing agencies with complete transparency of their goals and operations. Gaining insights such as the ESI is the end goal of a transformative data implementation which requires many steps to reach actualization.
To fully benefit from a comprehensive data program, agencies need to create actionable plans backed by qualitative and quantitative data. Although this is no easy task, there are specific steps we recommend to reach this ideal stage in analysis.
Build a culture of data literacy: Any investments in data collection and processing will be effectively useless if the company culture doesn’t understand the value. The mere existence of numbers and data won’t have any influence if it’s never consulted. The first step in benefiting from data collection is ensuring all employees understand the efficacy and need of data-driven decision-making.
Cultivate Analytics-Driven Leadership: With processes becoming increasingly data-driven, company growth is bound to occur. With analytics-driven leaders at the helm, growth decisions that benefit profits, costs, and satisfaction become achievable.
Craft Educational Action Plans: Once a data-accepting culture has been formed, management will begin crafting educational plans to roll out usage. The plans should begin with literacy and slowly scale up to usability and growth.
Start Simple: With plans in place, it’s common to attempt to eliminate the largest problems. Data by nature builds off itself, because of this, longer-found success starts by prioritizing the small, easy-to-address outliers. Agencies must use actionable data to answer quick fixes. Following this, foundational plans can take place to fully overhaul large issues.
Build Out Scalable Solutions: Finally, agencies are ready to scale. As large issues receive consideration, efforts must scale up to be reusable in the future if new issues appear. A solid comprehensive data program will remain in effect to continually optimize the agency after the main issues have received remedy.
Although fully trusting and benefiting from a data program begins at the agency level, MHA is here to help streamline the adoption process. The most vital step remains to create a culture that values, utilizes, and accepts data collection efforts. From there, an understanding of how to analyze and mobilize the data must materialize. Our team of data-driven experts understand the nuances of the post-acute industry, connecting with your agency to formulate a plan tailored to your specific goals. With clarity and confidence, we assist in providing transformative analytical insight, custom fitted to propel you directly to your goals. If you’d like to learn more about our analytical solutions, contact us at [email protected] or visit www.maxwellhca.com.