Four ways data helps Minnesota's health department cut costs

Using data from readmissions, emergency department use and hospital admissions, the Minnesota Department of Public Health (MDPH) is finding room for improvement when it comes to cutting costs.

The health department, by analyzing the data sets, found more than one million visits that were unnecessary, which represent $2 billion in potential savings.

When it comes to managing population health to improve outcomes across communities as well as cut costs, robust data and use of analytics is the cornerstone to any effort, according to a special report from FierceHealthIT.

Findings from the data analyzed by MDPH included:

  • Two out of three ED visits could have been avoided
  • Patients who visited a hospital's ED multiple times most often had respiratory or sinus infections, abdominal pain, or back pain--all which could be diagnosed in a more cost-effective way in a primary care setting
  • Medicaid patients were more likely to go to the ED than a primary care provider
  • About 500,000 admissions were preventable, including ones dealing with pneumonia and chronic conditions like heart failure and COPD

"Equipped with these findings, we will work with providers and community leaders to ensure patients more consistently receive the right care, in the right place at the right time," Minnesota Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger, M.D., said in a statement on the study.

Another example of a provider using data to cut costs is Texoma, an accountable care organization in Wichita Falls, Texas. The organization is part of the Medicare Shared Savings Program, and chose to use analytics to achieve quality and cost metrics associated with the program. The ACO was also able to better cut costs through the use of analytics, especially because it made physicians more aware of what their care was costing patients.

To learn more:
- here's the study (.pdf)
- read the announcement