January 25, 2021 | Doug Cundiff, MPT, MPH

5 min read

4 Tips to Make Better Data-Driven Decisions in Rehab Therapy

As rehab therapy leaders, the decisions we make have profound effects on the quality of care patients receive, the support we give to staff and teams, and the strength of our bottom line. One of the most powerful resources we have that can assist in making better and more informed decisions is data.

But for many of us, data can seem overwhelming. Often, this leads to the underutilization of an extremely powerful and supportive asset. However, with the right guidance and resources, making better data-driven decisions doesn’t have to be just a dream. We don’t have to be stats-geeks or math-whizzes to get the confidence and unimpeachable support that data brings to the table.

Here are four tips to help you maximize your use of data:

1. Ensure You’re Measuring the Correct KPIs

One of the chief challenges of getting started with data is knowing what to measure. If we dedicate resources to measuring certain things only to find out later they’re not actually helpful, we’ll be right back where we started and with fewer resources. Even more alarming, if we measure the wrong data and make decisions based on those findings, we could drive unintended consequences.

Download E-Book: Top 6 KPIs to Optimize Your Rehab Therapy Revenue Funnel

Thankfully, this isn’t an area where we need to be trailblazers. Experts have already identified the key pieces of data we should be tracking to draw meaningful conclusions that can drive more informed decision making. These data sets are known as key performance indicators (KPIs) and include things like:

  • Number of referrals by source
  • Number of referrals converted  
  • Completed visits per episode of care
  • Patient attendance metrics
  • Billable units per visits

If you’d like to see more examples of beneficial KPIs for rehab therapy, we’d encourage you to check out our free e-book.

2. Understand the Importance of Sample Size

When it comes to making data-driven decisions, sample size is critical. It drives the precision of our findings and our ability (or inability) to draw meaningful conclusions.

Depending on our backgrounds, most of us have probably had some level of interaction with sample sizing, whether in a statistics class back in school or through conducting or reviewing medical research. As a refresher, sample size refers to the number of participants in a study or the number of observations within a data set.

For example, let’s say we’re looking at how long our patients wait in the waiting room before being seen by a therapist. We look at five instances and see that everyone waited over 30 minutes to be seen. Should we make immediate changes? Maybe or maybe not. What if those five instances were from the same day when half of our staff was out sick? What if those were all new patients who had to fill out additional paperwork that took them longer than normal? Smaller sample sizes are much more likely to be skewed by temporary outside influences.

How about if we look at 100 instances and we see that everyone is waiting over 30 minutes? At that point, we should be more inclined to draw conclusions and consider making some changes. It’s much less likely with a larger sample size that outliers and one-offs are incorrectly influencing our data.

3. Avoid Preconceived Notions about Data

Some of the most fascinating aspects of data are that it has no preconceived notions, no “skin in the game,” and it doesn’t pick sides. As humans, we’re inherently flawed towards having bias and sometimes letting outside influences skew our views on what’s really happening. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, it can create some issues if we allow our preconceived notions to improperly negate the findings in our data.

Let’s continue with our example of measuring how long patients are waiting before being seen by a therapist. Let’s say we believe that our patients are seen quickly. Every time we check in on the waiting room, it looks empty, we’ve had several patients thank us for getting them in quickly, and our online reviews mention we’re fast.

However, when we start tracking the data, we see that the average wait time is half an hour. If we choose to allow our preconceived notions to negate these findings, we may pass up a great opportunity to improve our services. Maybe our more vocal patients are the ones who are getting in quickly? Maybe the patients that waited longer chose to start going somewhere else?

Our anecdotal views of the landscape will never be as accurate as hard data. But as long as we choose to employ data as an ally, this can be a big positive for our patients, our staff, and our bottom line.

4. Employ the Findings

Tracking, analyzing, and dissecting the data trends are the bulk of the work when it comes to properly employing data. However, if we were to stop there, it would all be for nothing. The entire goal of drawing these meaningful conclusions is to make better decisions that help our practices and departments move forward.

Here are some actionable tips for getting the most mileage out of our data findings:

  • Understand what the data means. The more we know what the numbers are trying to tell us, the easier it gets to figure out the right changes or steps forward.
  • Consider looking to experts. Many software solutions and consulting opportunities may be able to offer deep insight into what our data means and what the right steps forward in response are.
  • Track the changes. Data is not a one-and-done operation. It should be a real-time process that continues for the life of our business. When you make a change, track the results to see if it was worthwhile and to shape future decisions.

Want to find out how you can start employing data to achieve better and more-informed decisions making?

Net Health® Therapy for Hospital Outpatient and Private Practice , a specialized all-in-one EHR solution, offers managers, directors, and decision-makers the ability to boost efficiency, performance, and outcomes in real-time. This must-have resource suite offers in-depth metric tracking, trend analysis tools, critical documentation assistance, billing assets, and a multitude of essential reports that can help you build that revenue funnel to success.

Schedule a demo now to see what Net Health Therapy may be able to do for you.

Top 6 KPIs to Understand and Optimize Your Rehab Therapy Revenue Funnel

Maximize your revenue while delivering high-quality care.

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