The Untapped Potential of Clinical Data

The box office hit movie, “The Black Panther” takes place in a mythical country called Wakanda, whose secretive existence protects a highly valuable substance called “vibranium”. This fictional substance has power-absorbing qualities that make it impenetrable. In the movie, the Black Panther’s sister, Suri, engineers vibranium to absorb powerful kinetic energy that makes it even stronger. What makes vibranium most valuable is that the energy it stores can be redistributed.

Clinical data is like the mythical substance of vibranium – it has untapped potential to be reused for powerful insights. However; due to the challenges of interoperability, many agree that clinical integration is almost as inaccessible as the fictitious substance of vibranium! Nevertheless, if we could redistribute clinical information, the collective power would be even greater than the original data.

The True Value of Clinical Integration

Clinical integration is an example of the value of shared clinical data – a comprehensive record that provides a complete picture of the patient. Yet, the thought of clinical integration is as perplexing as it is inspiring while many providers struggle to manage data in their own electronic health records (EHR’s), let alone to integrate data from other systems.

Clinical integration has numerous meanings in health care circles. Some think it means that all providers will use the same EHR. Many think it represents interoperable methods of data sharing among many different systems. Others equate it with the requirements and goals of a Clinically Integrated Network (CIN), such as improved value, physician leadership, best practices, performance improvement, and data sharing.

The Gateway to MACRA Success

The introduction of MACRA reporting requirements in 2017 provided greater significance to the concept of clinical integration. From the Merit Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) to Alternative Payment Models (APM’s), it’s evident that leveraging clinical integration provides a springboard for quality improvement and reporting efficiency. Furthermore; CIN’s with a proven track record of clinical data management have demonstrated a strong foundation upon which to build an APM, such as an Accountable Care Organization (ACO).

We observed these clinical integration advantages first-hand among our customers. Whether reporting for MIPS or ACO measures, our clinically integrated customers had higher quality scores than those performing manual data collection. Even more intriguing was the fact that 100% of our clinically integrated ACO customers achieved shared savings.

The Single EHR Myth

These groups had multiple EHRs (and multiple instances of the same EHR). Thus; having a greater number of providers using the same EHR did not ensure better quality scores.

This caused us to take a closer look at the common denominators of these groups’ achievements. We observed two key factors that contributed to their success:

1) The process of mapping to data in the EHR improved their scores because ACO stakeholders became more aware of the measurement requirements and the correlating documentation workflows.

2) Scores were improved when data was automatically extracted from the EHR throughout the year. They were impacted by two primary benefits: real-time progress reports for filling gaps in care, and reducing the likelihood that data would be “missed” during annual reporting for clinical quality metrics.

Common themes we observed in non-clinically integrated projects included charting inconsistencies, more gaps in care, and an increase in the time and efforts of reporting.

Clinical Integration & Improved Workflow – Turns Clinical Data into Your Superhero

These observations helped prove our hypotheses that unleashing the value of clinical integration hinges on an understanding of EHR workflows, an accurate data mapping process, and engaging providers in real-time quality performance. Shifting all providers to the same EHR platform might not achieve the desired results of clinical integration. An example of this is when there are multiple locations in the same EHR to document information, and all of these possible locations are not mapped into the data aggregation and reporting scheme.

The power of clinical integration might not make for an exciting blockbuster movie. However; there are lessons to be learned from the inspiring “Black Panther” story about how allies can be rallied to unleash the power of their resources. In the real-life world of health care, success stories are waiting to be written about the power of clinical integration and the value of its untapped potential. At Clinigence, we’re working to be part of that success story. If you’d like to learn more about how we support clinical integration and empower our customers to release the value of their data, please reach out to us!