Author: Maxwell Healthcare Associates
Posted: September 5, 2023
With post-acute care transitioning towards a focus in value the industry becomes more volatile every day. At Maxwell Healthcare Associates we believe that as long as caregiver passion exists within the agency, any organization can thrive with the proper knowledge. The team at MHA comprises many longstanding industry veterans from all aspects of the care process. Through each interview we aim to empower your agency in making the shift from surviving to thriving amid the strenuous post-acute care environment.
In this interview, we sat down with Kody Johnston, Director of Business Analytics on the Innovation team at MHA. Kody discusses the current state of post-acute care, data collection, and the steps needed to make your data work for you.
You know, home health is really the side where there's more of a struggle regarding data utilization or confidence. I think it's important to differentiate data utilization because home health and Hospice companies utilize data, but how they utilize it I think there is a wide gap of variance depending on the size of the organization and the goals of the organization and really what they're trying to do. So, you know home health, just comparing the two business lines there's a lot more going on honestly. I would say from just a service line standpoint, compared to Hospice, there's a little bit more payor involvement. You have more voices, more reimbursement modalities for home health companies, there's a lot of need in that area especially when we're invoicing or when we might send payments to commercial payors compared just to Medicare and Medicaid.
There's also a lot more focus I think from a regulatory aspect. We're seeing the trimming of a lot of home health budgets from the proposed rule that just came out, hospice is untouched, most of the volatility remains in home health. Hospice is kind of shielded by the end-of-life services they provide individuals, it makes home health a little bit more of a focal point for people that want to change the industry. Because of those conditions I think it's a natural consequence when it comes to leveraging data and having confidence of their data. There are differences of practices and just differences of focuses that reside in many home health companies.
Pretty standard answer across most job sectors not even just home health, but the issues that come from a lack of healthy data analysis and confidence in your data is really the inability to make the best strategic and informed decisions for your organization. At the end of the day companies are going to use what they have, and some companies are a little bit more ahead of the curve when it comes to leveraging data to make informed decisions. One of the benefits using data that has high data integrity is it gives you the ability to not only cast ROI for your company and protect your enterprise assets, but it also allows you to be innovative and it allows you to maybe make a better decision that is going to help prolong your company’s existence through time.
There's a lot of executive decisions that come from companies that are based on data, but I think that's honestly the simplest answer. A lot of home health and Hospice organizations forget that when they don't have good data analysis or confidence in their data or if they’re limited to certain data pipelines, then really, they don't have the ability to make the best decision possible for their enterprise.
I think a metric that is commonly disregarded or deemed irrelevant is something I call the engagement satisfaction index. Basically, this index is a KPI that takes a period of subjective qualitative analysis and cost objective analysis and weights them against the priorities of the business to generate a score of 0-100 for technologies regarding the engagement and satisfaction of their end users.
So recently, Forester came out with a report where they surveyed a bunch of healthcare entities and the one thing that differentiated a lot of these entities from being a future focused healthcare provider was their focus on the engagement and satisfaction of their clinicians and patients. Based on these survey results, we could see the percentage of companies not investing in this data due to cost, and the percentage that is actually doing it. So, while any company is going to say “yes it's important”, I don't see a lot of these metrics reported.
One because it's hard to get them, two because it's hard to maintain them, and three, it costs money to invest in them. Some companies have their hands strapped, really limiting what they're going to prioritize, and they must do it just for the survival of the business it's not because they care or don't care about it. Overall, though, I think the engagement satisfaction index is an important metric that home health and hospice companies should be investing in to really help not just survive but grow.
You can implement data analysis and data analytics in a company, but if your people don't have a culture of data literacy, knowledge of how to use it, and even a philosophical understanding that it's necessary, you're not going to see the maximum amount of ROI. When you're trying to run solid data analytics, that is an investment, that takes time to do, so you know those scenes are present.
I was just talking with some people recently at a conference and they were saying what hinders them is their people don't use data and they haven't put it in their culture, that was literally verbatim what someone told me at the conference. With that in mind, we have home health and Hospice enterprises that are going to invest in data. It'll take time, sometimes they'll see immediate ROI because they just had solid consulting from an agency like MHA, consultant teams like that can expedite the risk of not seeing the ROI in a fast way. Overall, its truly going to vary and some of it is just due to the culture of data literacy and the perceived need for data.
Well, I think the first one is to build a culture of data literacy; I would just start there. Use gap assessments, perform needs analysis in your organization. From that you can craft educational plans, plans of action, dare I say quality plans. You can create a strategy of how to address these data analytic needs once you understand and have a pulse on the heartbeat of the organization. After that you can hire people that have thought leadership, you can build a team data driven individuals to help perpetuate that leadership in your company and really find the low hanging fruit that you might not be leveraging.
I’ve seen a lot of situations when teams are in the building phase and once they've mapped out the gaps in their data literacy and their data culture, they realize a lot of their executives are already data-driven. This can be just by the nature of who these executives are, most executives around the world will always be data-driven because they might report to private equity board or something like that. You identify these executives, then you can build your team around them and create that governance that empowers the organization.
The third step I think, personally, is to do two things. Start with the must haves of data, finding areas in your company that give you high value with low difficulty to solve. Don't go and try to do the grandiose thing of making the master data dictionary for all the clinical or operational KPIs of your organization. That's going to take a lot of time and energy, it's valuable but it can lead to burnout if you start with that. I’d recommend you find the things that are going to keep the business running, build solid data analytic practices, map your data sources, get your data pipelines, and pump that data to where you're not having to do a lot of work. Once those processes are established, you can find the areas in your organization using gap assessments from the data to build KPI's and reporting metrics that that will give you that high value. Once you find the high-value and low-difficulty solutions, you build out reporting metrics around that, then you can address the strategic innovative prerogative of the company executives.
With the uncountable number of nuances in the post-acute space, it makes sense for your agency to feel overwhelmed at times. Our experts at MHA hold a wealth of knowledge and experience within the industry. If you’re ready to take the next step in achieving your agency’s goals don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact us today at [email protected] or visit www.maxwellhca.com.