Driving wait times down with healthy dashboard tools

The new driver of healthcare is the dashboard. This real-time visual representation of a health system’s data is the healthcare executive’s best defense against creeping rises in wait times that plague healthcare today. At a glance, the dashboard tool provides a bird’s eye assessment of the aggregate data that indicates performance. It affords easy access to solution-rich data that may lie ignored or forgotten in medical data management functions at the strategic and operational levels.  A robust dashboard can express the health of a system’s patient flow and can confirm the executive’s case for streamlining to keep wait times down.

Known as dashboard metrics, this powerful data picture pulls together views of disparate information into one place. The impact is an effective way to analyze health system hiccups and bottlenecks and connect it right to the bottom line. The Strata IQ dashboard tool pulls the rich data from Strata PathWays each day to accurately reflect progress on system performance goals, standards, and established benchmarks.  Key to this is Strata IQ’s ability to view this performance target data compared to peers; which helps determine which elements need deeper focus.

If, for example, a dashboard shows an obvious anomaly in occupancy or vacancy rates, turnaround times, or average wait times in one system facility compared to others in the same system or among systems, executives have greater ability to act quickly to find out why and what to do about it. Without a dashboard, tracking and interpreting system data becomes onerous, questionable, and with significant action delay. This is a real problem for today’s health system executive who knows wait times need to be reduced but cannot quickly pinpoint where the logjams are and why.  They need to use data visually to understand system performance, manage policy, and monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) so that they can make real wait time improvements without interrupting, at times, chaotic patient flow.

Dashboards can be customized to represent trending information over time. For example, a Strata IQ customized dashboard could extract a volume of hospital discharge data over the past two quarters and compare it to the current quarter’s data to predict what the fourth quarter might look like in terms of high or low discharge rates and the resulting increase or decrease in wait times for patients. Depending on trend strength, hospital executives would then be in a good position to drill down into the transactional data that has been extracted from the Strata PathWays system and make the necessary patient flow improvements at that hospital.

If trends are positive for a particular hospital, the learning would be applied across the system to all hospitals; and system wait times in general would start to trend downward. If trends are negative, this same learning would be similarly applied only with new actionable solutions applied. Dashboards are sophisticated models that allow health systems to identify patterns, opportunities, and what-if scenarios. They are excellent tools to help measure today’s targets and set new ones for tomorrow based on what yesterday’s data is telling us.

Health systems today face tremendous pressure to measure functionality and overall system success. We already know that rising Acute Alternate Level of Care (ALC) rates are the root cause of much of our health system grief and perceived failure. Having the ability to access a snapshot of how patient flow trends in ALC and Emergency Access are managed, for example, is critical within today’s strained health systems. Measuring the days that acute care patients are in hospital, when they should really be in residential care, is an indicator that can reveal how the referral process is working.

An effective analytics platform like Strata IQ provides a solution to measure these inpatient days from broad trends down to specific transactions. This is absolutely necessary for healthcare executives to get ALC days down, patient wait times down, and accountability up. There is no good reason why health systems cannot meet the wait time challenge. By leveraging technology to mine and represent the data that informs strategic decisions and patient placement decision-making, health system accountability is in for a sweet ride. Patients should not have to wait for their health system to get on board.

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