Can your data prescribe ways to improve healthcare?

We pick up our series about the top five analytics challenges for hospitals by focusing on another typical shortcoming of healthcare data, its prescriptiveness — or ability to suggest a path forward by highlighting areas of improvement. And to do that, let’s begin by relaying a story.

Exparel is an injectable, delayed-release anesthetic used as a nerve block in patients before or during surgery. Advocates tout its ability to replace opiates as a pain reliever and get patients up and moving more quickly. Yet some healthcare organizations don’t support it because of its high cost.

That was the case with one hospital pharmacy director we worked with, who was spending lots of time urging surgeons to reduce its use, despite the surgeons’ insistence that the drug had proven to be effective with their patients and provide value.

We performed an analysis using POP-BUILDER Rx™, Agilum’s proprietary real-world longitudinal census database that compares populations within an organization against a real-world index of data from more than 145 million patients. Quickly, we were able to demonstrate to the pharmacy director that Exparel usage was associated with better patient outcomes at his facility. The findings allowed him to focus on other areas of opportunity.

A giant mass of numbers

Electronic medical records, automated dispensing cabinets, laboratory information systems, hemodynamic monitoring and radiologic-oncology systems are just a few contributors to the mountains of data health systems manage. Too often it’s hard to access, there’s no easy way to run comparative analytics, and they’re certainly not prescriptive. If you don’t know what questions (data specifications) to ask for, or you’re not sure what to do with the information, it’s very hard to know where to find direction and identify the best interventions. Even if you know the questions you want to ask of your data, it’s difficult, time-consuming and resource-intensive to extract the data and build reports from it.

CRCA P&T, the analytics platform that includes POP-BUILDER Rx, guides you through that analysis and helps you focus your queries so you get the answers you are seeking.

In healthcare, where any intervention can be dissected along age, gender, procedures, comorbidities and other variables, it’s difficult to identify data that can prescriptively tie an action to an outcome. POP-BUILDER Rx controls for variables to provide analytics including comparisons of real-world outcomes tied to the same specific action.

Dollars and sense

I’ll offer another story to help illustrate the power of prescriptive data, set once again in the operating room.

Our anesthesia friends have been blessed with the trifecta of drug therapy. Ofirmev, Exparel and Bridion have challenged healthcare organizations, increasing cost of surgical procedures by over $300. P&T committees and pharmacy leaders struggle to monitor drug utilization in procedure areas where access is limited and drugs must be immediately available. Once a drug is approved for a formulary, it is near impossible to remove it.

With robust, prescriptive data and the right analytics tools, you can compare patient outcomes using length of stay for both the traditional and new agents. Further, you can evaluate those metrics against the length of stay, total cost of care or additional procedures, like re-intubation.  Use of Ofirmev and Exparel are also associated with opioid stewardship activities. Prescriptive data analytics offers much-needed clarity in reviewing opioid use, again to focus on activities that deliver the best care and highest value to the organization.

These are perfect illustrations of how data can be harnessed to provide better-quality care for your patients and realize savings or additional revenues for your organization.