Guest Column | February 16, 2017

Improving Chronic Disease Management Through Business Intelligence

business intelligence

By Nora Lissy, RN, BSN, MBA, Director of Healthcare Information, Dimensional Insight

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly half of U.S. adults suffer from at least one chronic disease, with a quarter of adults suffering from two or more. Effectively treating these conditions comes with a high price tag and is a leading cause of our nation’s rising healthcare costs. According to U.S. News and World Report, 86 percent of all healthcare spending is currently going towards the treatment of these conditions, equating to more than $3 trillion annually.

To decrease these staggering statistics, healthcare professionals are looking for ways to combat the rise of chronic conditions while keeping escalating treatment costs down. Thankfully, one of the most surprisingly effective tools for combatting these diseases is already being used by healthcare facilities across the country.

Business intelligence adoption is continuing to rise within the healthcare industry. According to a recent HIMSS Analytics study, 41 percent of hospital respondents reported they currently use clinical and business intelligence tools for their analytics, with that number expected to continue to increase over the next two years. As Big Data becomes cemented into the everyday healthcare landscape, physicians are realizing the true potential of business intelligence and data analytics to positively impact the healthcare industry as whole, including the effective management of prominent chronic diseases.

Below are three ways business intelligence can help improve chronic disease management and lower the rising costs of care.

  1. Adherence to care initiatives: Chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension require consistent adherence to care plans in order to improve a patient’s health status. This also calls for frequent follow up appointments made by the physician to check in on a patient’s progress. However, with patient populations for these chronic conditions continuing to increase, ensuring consistent follow up care for each individual is easier said than done.

By leveraging a business intelligence capability, physicians are better equipped to ensure their care plans are abided by. Through the use of work queues and alerts, physicians can gain insight and visibility into each patient within a population cohort, enabling them to use the most accurate and timely information when scheduling follow up appointments and determining appropriate care tactics. Business intelligence also provides insight into disease trends across a patient population allowing for more personalized and cost effective treatment plans.

  1. Education and execution of evidence-based best practices: Business intelligence can also assist physicians with analyzing the effectiveness of chronic disease treatments. By comparing and contrasting data, physicians are able to compare treatment protocols and analyze the outcomes of similar patients with the same chronic illness allowing them to see the effectiveness of a specific treatment over time. These capabilities can also help physicians identify areas of improvement and increase the use of industry best practices.

For example, evidence has shown using corrective therapy alone for the treatment of diabetes is less effective at stabilizing and maintaining control than using a more individualized bolus and prandial treatment protocol. By using business intelligence to compare treatment options and analyze the outcome of diabetic patients, physicians and caregivers can see the effectiveness of different treatments across a patient population. This allows for both higher quality care delivery based on evidence-based best practices as well as a reduction in overall costs by surpassing the less-effective treatment options.

  1. Leveraging data for future prevention: Nearly all of our nation’s leading chronic diseases are preventable. Thankfully, business intelligence can also play a key role in identifying the risk factors for these conditions before they begin to surface. By comparing past patient data to present patient data, physicians can identify similarities in patient populations and more effectively determine preventative tactics.

For example, business intelligence can help to analyze the efficacy of past treatment plans in disease populations and determine more effective, less costly treatments based on new evidence and advances in medicine. It also allows providers to analyze their current patient populations and identify risk factors that lead to the development of a chronic disease. Providers can then target those patients within their population that are exhibiting risk factors, but have not yet been diagnosed with a chronic disease. This enables physicians to create a clear, and more personalized care plan for each patient, while negating the costs of necessary treatment tactics. This also enables them to identify areas for educational opportunities and improvements in care delivery.

Business intelligence enables physicians to manage chronic diseases more effectively than ever before. Through the use of these tools, physicians are able to improve patients’ health status, reduce unnecessary costs and take advantage of industry best practices — ultimately driving better care delivery across the board.