Health四月 02, 2024

Advanced analytics provides a real-time window into clinician behavior and insights to help reduce care variation

Advanced clinical analytics tools provide healthcare systems with insight into clinician behavior and potential knowledge gaps, to meaningfully shape education, quality, and population health programming.

Importance of healthcare analytics for health system administrators

Clinical decision support (CDS) tools are vital for modern healthcare systems. As medical knowledge expands and clinicians are increasingly time-constrained, care teams need a reliable evidence-based solution that helps them answer questions at the point of care.

But healthcare system administrators, care team leaders and academic personnel require different actionable insights from their CDS solution. For them, the value lies within CDS analytics.

In the past, CDS analytics have mostly been confined to generic, high-level utilization reports that give administrators a retrospective snapshot of the overall level of usage of the solution, explains Julie Frey, Head of Provider Product for Wolters Kluwer, Health. However, it is more important and more valuable for administrators to proactively access actionable insights on what is top of mind for different members of the care team, including advanced practice providers and registered nurses, she says. “From those insights, administrators can take targeted and impactful remediation steps to close knowledge and care gaps that ultimately improve not only provider performance but also patient outcomes. That’s the path of evolution that decision support is currently on.”

Application of analytics: Contribution to care team education and performance

CDS-based clinical analytics have the power to identify and demonstrate key priorities and knowledge gaps to focus on for care team development, and that is beneficial for a health system’s overall practice.

The administrators who serve as the bridge between clinicians and IT tend to be the most engaged in analytics, along with those who have an education responsibility. Together, these leaders are finding great value in having insight into providers' point-of-care behavior for a variety of use cases, including:

  • Enabling data-driven and specific professional education campaigns.
  • Supporting clinical quality initiatives and uncovering potentially costly care variations.
  • Managing emerging community health trends.

Real-time usage data drives clinician education

In her work with UpToDate® Enterprise Edition, a comprehensive modern healthcare system experience from UpToDate, Frey sees administrators using analytics to identify where they need to implement specific clinician education.

With previous versions of CDS data, healthcare systems could view reports on who within their institution was using UpToDate and which CDS topics they were accessing. With the more sophisticated, self-service tools of UpToDate Enterprise Edition, healthcare system leaders can obtain more precise guidance on how to develop educational programming, with the ability to view which topics are trending across the organization, the users’ roles, and their geographical location.

For example, professionals could use CDS analytics to plan in-service training to:

  • Improve efficiency and reduce provider frustration by proactively identifying and addressing clinical support needs of clinicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, and other care team members.
  • Ensure effective formulary utilization by identifying and tracking care team education needs around formulary drugs.
  • Reinforce healthcare system policies and procedures based on topic search patterns.

Using data to help reduce care variability

Healthcare system-wide utilization of an evidence-based CDS solution helps unify care teams with access to the same trusted source of clinical guidance. That care team alignment leads to consistent and standardized care delivery, improving patient satisfaction and reducing potentially harmful variability throughout the healthcare system.

Advanced analytics offers new insights into care team behavior and clinical guidance utilization that empowers hospital administrators to proactively address potential sources of care variation. Previous approaches to using data analytics for care variation reduction use encounter data and past quality data to look for retrospective opportunities. With advanced analytics, administrators can engage with clinicians as they are providing care and share insights based on real-time data, with an opportunity to track the decision-making that potentially could lead to care variation.

Although these types of analytics are still developing, using data trend-tracking “to catch [a potential issue] at the forefront before it’s something that needs to be corrected, and then ultimately, to be able to improve patient outcomes, is the end goal,” Frey says.

Clinical analytics impact on population health

CDS analytics have been used to deliver value and a more complete story of population health trends to its users.

In 2020, public health agencies used search intensity data from UpToDate CDS to analyze COVID-19 outbreaks and gain insight into the potential of future regional increases of the disease.

In another example, a healthcare system noticed through its analytics reporting a sharp increase in clinicians searching for information related to red meat allergy. This is a symptom of Alpha-gal syndrome, a disease caused by tick bites. Seeing that spike in searches helped the care teams make the connection to a potential environmental and population health concern in their area and gave them the opportunity to proactively reach out to local providers with education on Alpha-gal and its treatment protocols.

Potential expansion of analytics capabilities

Clinical analytics is potentially the most productive insight-gathering option for healthcare system administrators. The other way to obtain net-new data about site- or group-specific clinical usage or trend data would be through surveys, and that process would be likely prove administratively challenging and produce biases in the results.

With CDS analytics, “the value is you're actually understanding clinician behavior,” Frey says. “As opposed to just looking at this from a retrospective view, you see from a quality measure standpoint. It’s an important lens and an important additional data set, especially used in combination with data sets [from other healthcare sources], to know where to focus time and effort to improve care.”

The next step for advanced CDS analytics tools, like the UpToDate Enterprise Edition analytics dashboard, is to integrate more thoroughly with electronic health records (EHR). Integration that is able to pull data from early patient interactions within the EHR complements the CDS advanced analytics concept of a more proactive engagement with clinical data and sets a future goal of more seamlessly embedding insights within the clinician workflow.

“Healthcare systems today are struggling with the amount of data that they have access to, both their own and vendor supplied,” Frey says. “A lot of them are trying to centralize as much of that as possible and curate and manage it in a way that supports use cases across their organization. It’s a huge challenge. But I think clinical decision support insights is a key piece of the puzzle that they aren’t getting today from anywhere else.”

Learn more about UpToDate Enterprise Edition

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Over 2 million clinicians worldwide trust UpToDate to make the best care decisions.
Use of UpToDate clinical decision support is associated with improved outcomes.
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