Business Intelligence: Making a Difference in Your Medical Practice
There is a lot of buzz about business intelligence….and business intelligence is usually used in connection with data, data systems or with the ability to obtain accurate data. I even read a recent article stating that “Business Intelligence was the holy grail of healthcare practices .”
Now I do not disagree that having accurate data is critically important. But the real factor of Business Intelligence is the human factor. Who is requesting the data, who decides the integrity of the data and who interprets the data is far more important than the data. The data without human interaction is simply data without meaning or purpose.
- What data is being requested? – with relational databases and well developed mining software, virtually every data element is eligible for reporting. But what is really needed to (1) know how your practice is performing and (2) what level of detail is needed to accurately report financial performance? Several years ago I asked for a report of (1)how much monthly income could the practice expect to receive from co-pays and (2) how much monthly income were we receiving from co-pays, by department? Good question…….predictable cash flow and how well the offices were at collecting the co-pays. With this report I was able to go directly to departments that were not collecting adequate amounts and institute procedures that ensured everyone that should pay a co-pay, was asked to pay. We sent letters to patients with statements telling them that co-pay payments were due at time of service. We posted signs in office explaining the co-pay collection policy and we established a financial counselor at strategic places to counsel with patients who chronically did not pay co-pays. Now this was a simple report designed to accomplish one thing…….determine if we had a co-pay collection problem and fix it. Requests for data need to have purposeful value……knowing how many patients have blond hair may be interesting……but hardly meaningful nor purposeful.
- How is data integrity verified? This is a critical step in any reporting process. How do I know the number is accurate……that the data is complete….that it balances to a hard number in the system? Without verification, can the data be trusted? Will we be spinning our wheels? Knowing that the reports you receive contain accurate and reliable data is critical …..make sure you know what you know.
- Who interprets the data? Let’s face it….there’s a lot of information out there that needs experts to interpret and determine efficacy. Critical thinking when looking at the data is equally important to getting the right data. Asking the right questions, understanding the rules and determining compliance, familiarity with the data so that an error is glaring, knowing the expected answer prior to receiving the data, knowing how to use data to make appropriate changes is vital.
Maybe it’s just me……but real Business Intelligence is about the people……..not the system producing the data.