Like other medical institutions around the country, Regions Hospital is addressing consumer, clinical, financial and regulatory demands to provide more efficient and effective care. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement has coined the term “triple aim” to describe how to optimize performance by focusing on:

  • Improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction)
  • Improving the health of populations
  • Reducing the per capita cost of healthcare

Taking a “triple aim” on improvement, however, isn’t easy. It requires a balanced approach. We can’t focus exclusively on cost reductions at the expense of quality or seek to achieve high levels of patient satisfaction without considering how to efficiently sustain these levels.

One challenge is to create a holistic view of business, financial and clinical operations from disparate technologies. You may have great individual billing systems, financial solutions and patient-satisfaction monitoring capabilities, but the data must be quickly and easily combined with clinical data to provide true enterprise intelligence. If systems can’t consolidate your data into meaningful and actionable intelligence, your executives will have to invest considerable time and effort doing it themselves.

Transforming Performance through Analytics

Having an analytically-driven decision support tool at your fingertips helps business and medical staff strengthen and expand service lines. It also supports broad decisions on clinical workflow and operations using a triple-aim approach.

At Regions Hospital, which is part of HealthPartners, we use performance analytics throughout our enterprise to evaluate budget trending, anticipated discharge, payroll and productivity, patient satisfaction, clinical diabetes care, patient safety indicators, meaningful use by providers and other critical areas.

We’ve designed these tools with drill-down capabilities that put patient-level information in the hands of physicians and other decision makers. They appreciate having quick online information access, with the ability to identify trends and outliers.

Improving the Health of Populations by Strengthening Service Lines

Analytics has played an important role in growing our service lines and helping us to determine our return on investment (ROI). For example, in Cardiology, we take a triple aim view of using analytics to measure performance levels by:

  • Satisfaction: evaluating patient, physician and employee satisfaction rates
  • Quality: lowering our patient readmission rate, accelerating patient time from door to lab, increasing nurse hand-washing compliance and other core measures
  • Cost: measuring the effectiveness of outreach marketing and studying generic drug use

We’ve been able to improve the performance of our service lines because we have a complete picture of what’s happening in a service line relevant to that patient population:

  • How many patients are we serving?
  • How satisfied are they?
  • How long does it take to get an appointment for a new or returning patient?
  • What are their quality outcomes?
  • What are the costs of care?
  • Are we growing? Are we losing market share and to whom?
  • How can we enhance that particular service line so it attracts more patients?
  • How much of our primary care group is referring business into the service line?

Reducing the Per Capita Cost of Healthcare

Performance analytics has also helped us make other prudent business decisions. Prior to building a new ambulatory surgery center and moving some outpatient services off campus, we analyzed these service areas and saw that we needed to improve our profitability by increasing volume and reducing surgery costs.

Having a consolidated view of surgical data enabled our surgeons to study specific surgery types and various factors that were causing cost variations (supplies, operating room time, staffing time, etc.). By reviewing surgical variations, they determined best practices and recommended areas of standardization. Incorporating these recommendations has improved costs and increased patient satisfaction, resulting in a positive cascading effect.

Improving the Patient Experience of Care

We’ve also used analytics to improve specific workflows: creating a more flexible OR staffing model to better align staff levels with demand. In addition, we’ve optimized the use of “patient sitters” to enhance one-on-one monitoring after surgery. In addition, when our analytics revealed nurse dissatisfaction with the turnaround time for lab results, we redesigned lab procedures – and increased satisfaction.

Regions Hospital is continuously working to improve its performance. If we target an area that is already using decision support solutions, we analyze the data and factor it into our strategic planning. We use it to manage costs, patient satisfaction, and care quality over the long haul. Taking this approach helps keep our triple aim right on target while maintaining a healthy business.

Regions Hospital Tracks Cardiovascular Non-Elective Readmissions

Improving Performance and Service

Regions Hospital uses analytics to track its 30-day non-elective readmission rate for cardiovascular services.

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About the author

Heidi Conrad is vice president and chief financial officer of Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn. She is responsible for Finance and Decision Support, Risk Management, Registration and Patient Accounting, Facility Planning, and Government & Community Relations, along with oversight for Finance functions at Westfields and Hudson hospitals. She has been in her current position since June 2007 and has ten years of executive financial experience in health systems and hospitals. Her prior experience includes positions with HealthPartners as vice president of Finance, Planning and Improvement and also as senior director, Special Projects. She also held several financial management positions through her early years at HealthPartners.