Physician Data Analytics – Five Basic Steps Toward Population Health

Data Healthcare

By Richard Howe, PhD, Executive Director of NTREC
Last month in an article in HealthITAnalytics (07/06/15), I discussed how our organization enables population health with big data analytics. Even though this article is focused on population health across a large metropolitan community, some of the underlying principles also apply to a small physician practice.

Five (5) steps for a small practice to migrate toward population health may include:

1. Establish strong governance.
a. Establish the data quality framework and agreed-upon standards.
b. Define the data elements using standard naming conventions and formats in the database.
c. Provide oversight for quality control to look for potential data problems.
d. Resolve any data governance issues.
e. Assign “data ownership” for creation of data and for correction of errors.

2. Clean up your basic demographic data.
a. Look for potential duplicate patient medical records.
b. Look for inconsistent names for the same patient.
c. Migrate toward use of only a patient’s legal name as the name of record.
d. Migrate toward use of the US Postal Service street name and address (like a GPS system uses in a car).

3. Train your staff to maintain a high integrity for all data input fields.
a. Look at data entry error rate by staff person.
b. Train staff to use only the legal name, and not nicknames.
c. Train staff to use only the US Postal Service street name and address.
d. Train staff to look for transposition errors during data input.
e. Train staff to double check all numeric input.

4. Start simple with claims data.
a. Data already exists.
b. Data is in a standard uniform format.
c. Provides basic diagnosis and procedure information.
d. Allows simple summary information across all your patients.

5. Begin population health by sorting claims data by most intensive patients first.
a. Look for patients with:
i. High number of visits.
ii. High number of claims.
iii. Major chronic conditions.
b. Establish a specific treatment / intervention plan for these intensive patients.

By following these five basic steps, you will begin to migrate toward a population-centric, value-based approach in the care and treatment of your patients.