Did you ever have the feeling that “wow, the answer was right in front of me the whole time.” Wound care providers are beginning to recognize that when it comes to finding ways to optimize patient outcomes, they may already have the solution needed – it’s in the data housed in the Electronic Health Record (EHR) platform they use on a daily basis.
However, just having a wound care EHR is not enough to get meaningful and actionable insights. Effectively accessing and using wound care data is predicated on a number of factors, including the ability to. . .
- Identify the data that could help optimize outcomes
- Access that data in an efficient manner
- Analyze and report on data in a way that enables clinicians to incorporate findings into therapies and workflow
Improving Outcomes with Data: Where to Start
The problem is where to start. What data will provide the information needed to improve healing and outcomes. Do you just look at data about the wound itself? Do you also need insights into underlying causes? Do you need to look at available therapies and their cost?
While all of those elements are important, there are a number of additional points to consider. Here are five steps to put you on the path of utilizing your own data – and that of other industry experts – to maximize patient outcomes.
- Ensure you understand the most important confounding variables that impact the ability of a wound to heal. Examine social determinants of health, age, underlying conditions and how each interacts to affect wound outcomes. Look at family dynamics as well. Once discharged, does that patient have support at home to help them get to appointments and perform basic tasks necessary (e.g., taking digital images of their wounds and sharing with their provider between clinic visits, changing dressings, etc.)?
- Measure the wound healing progression. If you properly track the conditions of patients and their progress, you stand a better chance of identifying the bottlenecks in your process.
- Share relevant wound care data with other providers within your organization. For example, when data is gathered and analyzed in wound care, clinicians are able to use SMS notifications, alerts, emails and other communications to provide vital information and ensure accountability along the care continuum.
- Access data from other comparable wound care providers. To ensure you have a robust collection of wound care data, look for EHR providers that can bring in insights from other wound care providers and ensure that information is in sync with the insights you need. For example, if you have a high population of patients at risk for amputations due to complications from diabetes, make sure the data you’re working with highlights organizations that have successfully improved outcomes in your area of interest.
- Talk to your wound care EHR provider – ask them for guidance in what and how to measure outcomes. Work with them to develop standardized and tailored reports on specific therapies, outcomes, and other factors identified as key to improving outcomes at your organization. Establish accountability with your EHR for not only what they provide to you but also what your organization’s clinicians do with the findings. Is it being incorporated into treatment plans? Do you see improvements in outcomes? If not, what needs to change?
Data Benefits All
Using data benefits stakeholders along the care continuum. It helps the clinician looking to improve outcomes; the patient who benefits from those improvements; and hospitals and clinics who want to ensure their programs provide optimal results while they improve overall patient satisfaction and minimize the risk of penalties. While improving wound care outcomes will always be challenging, tapping into relevant wound care data is proving to be a viable solution to the ongoing quest to improve wound care outcomes.
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