7 data points for improving access

Michele Ebbers, M.D.

Physicians must feel they have the agency to make an impact. Access to accurate, meaningful and real-time data is essential to feeling change is possible. HealthTrust Physician Advisor Michele Ebbers, M.D., a pediatric urologist at St. Luke’s in Idaho, says that sharing data with physicians—whether around new clinical products or organizational quality metrics—is integral to pulling physicians into these important decisions. “Share data that is relevant to the physician’s practice. Allow them to create and track their own data dashboard or to choose their own stats from a selection that the hospital is focusing on,” she suggests. Dashboards might include metrics like infection rates, average lengths of stay, and costs of procedures and materials.

To engage the physicians in your organization, Dr. Ebbers, along with two other HealthTrust Physician Advisors, suggest improving access to these seven data points.

1. Clinical data

Christopher Page, M.D.

Physicians understand that adopting new products is in large part a financial decision, but quality is an important deciding factor. “Data is needed when there is a genuinely novel product being used or being suggested for use at the hospital, and it is also important when considering replacing a product with another that is promoted as equivalent or better,” says HealthTrust Physician Advisor Christopher Page, M.D., a neuro-anesthesiologist at Singular Anesthesia Group, a private practice in Hartsdale, New York.

When considering new products, share existing evidence-based studies and clinical data with physicians. Facilitate discussions between the providers involved in the product’s development and those with experience using it. When looking to switch products, provide physicians with data that demonstrates the new products are efficacious.

Mikio Nihira, M.D.

When it comes to capital purchases for large medical and surgical equipment such as robotic surgical systems, the technology is changing quickly, so it heightens the need for real-time data. HealthTrust Physician Advisor Mikio Nihira, M.D., an OB/GYN at SevenStar Obstetrics and Gynecology, says, “When deciding on the right time to upgrade, it’s important to determine whether there has been enough real improvement and progress in the product’s functionality to make it worth the investment.”

2. Staffing levels

When staffing levels are low due to financial constraints or other factors, quality of care and patient safety may be at risk. “I’m a robotic surgeon working with one of the most advanced surgical options in history,” says Dr. Nihira. “I need two people to help me manage it. If it’s not done right, the electronics will short out. Low staffing levels affect patient safety, and it’s incredibly stressful and burdensome to physicians to have untrained staff managing complex instruments.”

Give physicians peace of mind by regularly sharing staffing reports. Communicate any efforts the hospital is making to retain clinicians and clinical-support staff, including financial decisions around standardization and minimizing supply waste.

3. Quality results

Continuously striving for improvement by earning quality certifications and special designations aligns with what physicians consider important. Doctors take pride in belonging to organizations that earn national and regional quality rankings, awards and designations because they want to work at a place that is recognized for the quality care it provides.

“If your hospital is trying to improve its Leapfrog scores or earn Magnet designation, regularly share those quality measures with physicians,” says Dr. Nihira. “Remember that quality improvement initiatives affect physicians, too, as you might be asking them to make changes such as providing more detail in their documentation, which can be burdensome.” Give them opportunities to get involved and share feedback since they are vital members of the clinical team.

4. Qualitative data

Physicians are driven by qualitative data as well. This can include customer feedback such as patient experience scores and market research on hospital or service line perception.

Experiential analysis is also helpful for physician engagement. Whether it’s a new MRI machine, surgical gloves, needles used for peripheral nerve blocks, or even the trays used to hold surgical instruments during procedures, clinicians should be at the table making decisions about products because they’re ultimately responsible for ensuring both patient safety and quality care.

“Surgeons use these products and have preferences, but they also have a real-world sense of what works better for them,” explains Dr. Page. “They like to have the opportunity to personally try out a new product.”

5. Cost of products

While physicians may not view supply costs as a defining factor of their role, providing transparency around the cost of medical and surgical products can help them see the value of supply decisions and the ripple effect they have on hospital operations.

“Physicians understand that they have to help with the effort to save costs in order to make the hospital run more efficiently,” says Dr. Page. But while there is a lot of discussion for higher-value items, when it comes to run-of-the-mill equipment, there is often an assumption that no one will notice or care. “The change from a diversity of options for a commodity item to single-source should be a collaboration between the frontline users and the decision-makers. In my experience, this type of collaboration leads to fewer hard feelings.”

6. Comparative data

“From a supply chain perspective, it’s a good idea to be transparent about how the hospital, service line or department compares to others of the same genetic makeup,” says Dr. Ebbers.

When considering a new product, “I get a little nervous about just looking at what is presented to me by the vendor,” says Dr. Page. A competitive matrix is helpful to compare products, just as you would look at multiple reviews when buying a new computer or iPhone.

7. Patient flow data

Patient flow issues affect physicians in multiple ways. Consider long appointment wait times, surgical start time delays and prolonged hospital stays. Regularly share time-related data that compares your hospital to other similar organizations.

“Physicians are scientists at heart, and data represents a tangible goal,” explains Dr. Ebbers. “We are, by nature, curious, and we are problem-solvers. Giving us accurate information about things we can influence, solve or improve, restores a sense of purpose to our work life and encourages engagement.”

Members are encouraged to visit the HealthTrust Knowledge Library as a resource for many product, category and evidence-related insights at hpginsights.com

Share This Article:

Share Email
, , ,