Posted on: September 25, 2019

I’ve been working on a presentation for an upcoming meeting with organizations that are making the change—or supporting the change—to value-based care (VBC), and it’s gotten me thinking about both the role of data and the role of the data user.

VBC is all about data-driven outcomes, and most organizations are focused on the existence and availability of the data. Data-exchange standards are shifting at the same time the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are requiring facilities to share more information. Even at Hixny this year, we’ve begun integrating clinical and nonclinical data—such as claims information—that can help providers understand regional costs and quality of care standards as well as the success of their own performance on their patients’ behalf.

I’m reminded, though, that change is a process, not a decision. Providers who generate positive data-driven outcomes and who succeed in the VBC environment are those who alter longstanding workflows to integrate effective data use into their practices.

One of our longtime primary care participants in solo practice, Adetutu Adetona, M.D., often points out how resistant she was to change her comfortable routine to accommodate the use of data in patient care and practice operations. When she grudgingly began to delve into the data she had at her fingertips, she quickly realized that she could improve the care she provided her patients, save time for herself and her patients, and avoid unnecessary costs.

From there, her interest took off. She began looking at her quality measures, such as breast cancer screening rates, creating new routines that allowed data pulled through Hixny to inform her patient encounters and weighing her own performance against local and regional standards.

What she learned, and what will allow other providers to successfully make the transition to VBC, is that data use has to be integrated into the process of patient care so that it becomes a routine and sustainable part of the practice workflow.

I liken it to someone who says they want to get fit, so they buy a home gym. If they begin using that equipment regularly, making it part of their daily life, then they’ll almost certainly improve their fitness. If they don’t use it—or only lift a weight occasionally—then they’ll still be saying they want to get fit next year.

That’s the current situation with Hixny and with other community health information exchanges. Until they integrate the use of data into their workflows, providers don’t see the impact that data can have on their patients and their businesses.

At this point, it’s really a matter of incrementally changing workflows little by little to access Hixny and make use of the available data. When that happens, providers will suddenly understand how—and why—VBC really works.

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