Challenge: Physician Data Analytics and Population Health
Physicians treat one patient at a time and seldom look at how they could improve the treatment of a population of patients with similar clinical conditions. At the same time, Electronic Health Records support documenting each episode of care and billing for that episode, but generally do not have any population health capabilities. The purpose of this project was to provide physician practices with a data analytics tool that could help them improve the overall health of their patients, especially those patients with the most severe chronic conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes.
Dallas Fort Worth Hospital Council Education and Research Foundation (DFWHCF) operates data analytic capabilities for 95% of the hospitals in North Texas, including a data warehouse of inpatient claims complete with a proprietary Regional Enterprise Master Patient Index (REMPI). Working under DFWHCF, the North Texas Regional Extension Center (NTREC) is developing a physician data analytics program to provide long-term service and support directly to our physicians and to complement the inpatient data analytics program.
The pilot phase of this project includes the development of a physician claims database and the application of analytical tools to the data in order to compare blinded financial and clinical practice parameters across different physician groups.
The physician data analytics pilot project began in the spring of 2013. Currently, we have three major organizations committed to participate in the pilot program with a fourth under consideration. The project has completed loading initial data from two of the partner organizations.
The initial date includes 167,000 patient claims loaded from one site and 133,000 claims loaded from the second site. After seeing demonstrations with live data, both sites have expressed an interest in using the physician data analytics system in their practices. They see potential in this system to improve overall practice performance related to population health, and to better track and treat patients with the most severe chronic health conditions.
Physician practice groups should begin to think about population health management at the beginning of their journey towards an electronic health record. By focusing on desirable population outcomes during EHR implementation, they can better plan for collection of the right data to support population health improvement in the future. It is much easier for practices when they configure a system correctly from the beginning rather than adapting a system in the future. Population health management will play an increasingly important role in primary care, and practices should be prepared for the changes ahead.
This physician data analytics pilot project allows physician offices that have fully implemented an EHR to maximize use of the data they collect in their regular operations. The data analytics system allows physicians to view all of their patients with similar clinical characteristics and to then focus on treating those patients with the most severe chronic and co-morbid conditions.
NTREC hopes to expand the program to all the physicians it serves, and to add other specialty physician groups in the area. Phase I will involve implementation of the Proof of Concept (POC) physician data analytics project. Phase II will include feedback from participants in preparation for full implementation in 2016.
This program will enable NTREC to create a truly vertical and horizontal data analytics tool that can follow a patient across all areas of care from the physician office setting to hospitals and back to the physician office, as well as from primary care physicians to specialists and back to the primary care physician.
The data will also allow researchers to identify health disparities and design prevention programs to improve quality of patient care and reduce costs within the physician’s practice.
Richard C Howe, Executive Director