Prescriptive analytics: The next step in putting residents first

Predictive analytics has changed the face of healthcare. The ability to analyze large amounts of information and use it to predict healthcare outcomes for individuals has allowed caregivers to maximize positive outcomes for their patients and maintain a high standard of care. That analysis of clinical data has also enabled caregivers to begin difficult conversations sooner–such as whether to prolong care or consider hospice–empowering patients to live out their remaining days in comfort and dignity.

At Medalogix, we’ve developed these kind of analytics solutions for providers that not only help improve patient care, but also save providers time and money while helping them meet the needs of value based care.

So, now that we’ve integrated the ability to predict patient risk to better manage patient populations, what’s next? How do we leverage technology and data to further improve individualized patient care? The answer is prescriptive analytics.

Taking predictive analytics to the next level, prescriptive analytics compare a patient’s data against tens of thousands of records, care plans and outcomes to not only predict patient outcomes, but also prescribe the best course of action, or care plan, for the patient.

Traditionally care planning consists of a clinician determining a patient’s care disciplines and frequencies based on diagnosis alone. Prescriptive analytics can factor in each patient’s unique healthcare status to provide an effective, personalized, dynamic and comprehensive care plan backed up by hard data.

Imagine: What if your doctor could navigate your healthcare journey the way Waze navigates your route home, taking into account traffic, bumps in the road and roadblocks, and, ultimately, finding the most efficient path? In the same way, not everybody is on the same healthcare journey, and one road is not going to work for every patient.

Dr. Michael Fleming, a physician of 40 years who served as past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians is a strong advocate of analytics in healthcare. He recently spoke with me about traditional care plans–many written years ago–which are often based solely on a patient’s diagnosis and applied by rote. “Uniformity is often the enemy of a positive health outcome,” Fleming said. Previously, that was the only way to treat large numbers of patients, but that isn’t the reality anymore. With prescriptive analytics, clinicians have the ability to easily and soundly tailor care plans so that each one is as unique as the patient.

A recent Gartner study found that only three percent of companies currently use prescriptive analytics. But that is going to change–and likely soon. The technology is already in use by some healthcare professionals, and it is poised to become standard practice as caregivers seek to find the best course of treatment for a population that is living longer and more apt to require long-term treatment as they age.

At my own company, we’ve spent years deconstructing and comparing home health records, allowing us to identify a number of surprising trends. For example, our scientists found a statistical decline in visit effectiveness after the ninth visit across certain diagnostic groups. Typically, home health episodes involve 15 visits or more for each patient. We also found that several of the home care therapies that are most expensive showed an (unexpectedly) low impact on patient improvement. The conclusion? There are countless elements of established healthcare “norms” that can be streamlined and improved for the benefit of patients and caregivers. With prescriptive analytics, we have an entirely new way of looking at care, and a more effective way to identify areas where more healthcare is not necessarily better healthcare.

The need for prescriptive technologies is growing, particularly in light of the new CMS Home Health Value Based Purchasing Model, which reimburses care providers based on outcomes for patients, rather than the number of procedures performed. It’s no longer necessary or effective to perform every test possible or to prescribe a standard number of nurse visits to every patient. Healthcare is on a course to become increasingly individualized and efficient. Prescriptive analytics will help doctors navigate courses of treatment for their patients, while ensuring that patients are receiving all of the care they need and none of the care they don’t.

This is good news for all of us–and a prescription for better care in years to come.

Dan Hogan is founder and CEO of Nashville, Tennessee-based Medalogix, a healthcare technology company that provides analytics and workflows to home health providers. He can be reached at 615-200-8443.

Topics: Advocacy , Articles , Executive Leadership , Information Technology , Resident Care , Technology & IT