4 keys to 'right-time' performance data

When hospitals talk about performance data, they're usually talking about real-time information. But according to Brian Harte (pictured), president of South Pointe Hospital, hospitals would be wise to think about "right-time" data.

Drawing from the right-time, right-place, right-care mantra of recent healthcare changes, "right-time" data is short-cycle information used for measuring patient outcomes.

"We have it in the shortest possible time that we can get it and is appropriate for performance management," Harte, also the medical director of medical business intelligence of the 173-bed acute care, community teaching hospital in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, told FierceHealthcare.

For instance, even though the hospital knows about readmissions within 30 minutes with its "sophisticated" technology, as Harte called it, the hospital may only need readmissions data within 24 hours.

"Knowing it in a short enough cycle time, you can identify, perhaps, if there is a systems failure so you can prevent it from happening to the next patient," Harte said. He added that other patient indicators might call for a quicker cycle.

According to the business intelligence medical director, there are four keys to effective performance management using data:

1. Single source of truth
As part of the Cleveland Clinic Health System, South Pointe shares the same dashboard technology as other hospitals in the network, which serves as the "single source of truth"--a critical component to effective performance management, Harte said.


"The more transparent, the better in identifying best practices."

"Whether you're Dr. Cosgrove … or a hospital president or a department chair, you can access the same set of tools and have confidence that this is the source of truth that Dr. Cosgrove, himself, and the board and the rest of leadership relies upon for performance reporting and management," Harte explained.

Readmissions data, for example, is reported on a monthly basis.

2. Transparency
The data isn't limited to only leaders' eyes, though. Hospitals can view each other's data. Although sharing data might foster friendly competition between the individual community hospitals under Cleveland Clinic, the point is that they share information in the interest of overall improvement.

"If someone is doing well, that shouldn't be a secret," Harte said. A hospital that is performing lower on quality than its neighboring, regional hospital is encouraged to call up the other to figure out why. "The more transparent, the better in identifying best practices," he said.

3. Ability to drill down data
In addition to sharing the same source of information with each other, another key is to drill down.

"In the world of electronic medical records, having enough data isn't the problem. It's having too much data and/or making sure the data you have is high enough quality to manage the issue," Harte said about the epic big-data problem.

Although the dashboard technology is third-party software, the local team conducts the analytics in house. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense if the Cleveland Clinic CEO knows how the overall entity is performing if the local managers don't, Harte said.

"You have to be able to drill down as far into the data as they need to in order to enact change," he said.

4. Link to performance management
At South Pointe and Cleveland Clinic, performance measurement is thought of as "continuous improvement," Harte said.

Although some hospitals brag about their ability to monitor real-time outcomes, the information must be meaningful and tied to performance.

"It's not real time unless real time is actually leading to managing and improving performance," Harte noted.

Right-time data means hospitals have the information they need in the time they need it, whether analytic tools are after the fact or predicative analytics assessing how providers might do in the future. Having that data serves as a communication tool with clinicians and encourages a culture of quality.

"When I've sat down with the medical staff and shown them how we're doing and where the opportunities are to improve, they recognize that the hospital's success is their success because what's good for patients is first and foremost, in their minds as well," Harte said.

"Whether it's in quality, readmissions or patient experience or length of stay or correct status, these things are good for patients. And that's something they really rally around," Harte said.

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