You may think that data and analytics are not things that chiropractors need to pay attention to.
Perhaps you believe that data should only be analyzed by bigger companies or those with more time or know-how. But data can be critically useful to you and your practice. Not only can it help grow your business but it can help you keep patients as well as attract new ones.
Data will also become critically important as the healthcare industry continues to evolve towards value-based care and reimbursement. Understanding data and analytics now means you won’t be left behind later.
What is big data?
The term “big data” is often thrown around as a buzzword, but what does it actually mean? Big data refers to the ability to collect and analyze large and complex datasets to uncover new insights about the world around us.1 For each industry it can mean different things and the opportunities to use big data are seemingly limitless.
Big data can “decode human DNA in minutes, find cures for cancer, accurately predict human behavior, foil terrorist attacks, pinpoint marketing efforts, and prevent diseases,” says Bernard Marr, bestselling author and analytics consultant.
While you may not be curing cancer with the data you gather at your practice, data is still valuable to you and your business. But just knowing you should collect data isn’t enough.
Gathering the right data and knowing what to do with it is equally important.
Gathering the correct data points is crucial to being able to analyze them meaningfully. While every practice is different and data may slightly vary on needs, there are some data points you should definitely consider examining.
Jay Greenstein, DC, CEO of Sport and Spine Rehab and his team gather a large variety of data to analyze, which in turn helps grow the practice.
“Every week we are looking at the typical chiropractic visits, billings, revenue, number of patients, and other types of detail data like billings per visit, retail sales, proportion of active and passive care, patient satisfaction, online review data, etc.,” he says.
R.T. Donahue, president of Collaboration Health Care, agrees but also sees data as being valuable to you as a business manager.
By collecting “objective internal and external data points you can drive staff meetings and stay personally responsible to achieve your goals and help set goals for your staff,” he says.
Donahue also recommends collecting data on the percentage of patients who complete your recommended care plan, your most frequent billing errors and how much they cost you, and codes other providers are using that you rarely use.
Now that you’ve collected the key data points, how do you analyze them to be useful to you and your practice?
Having software to help you make sense of the data you’ve collected is an invaluable time-saver. But not all software is created equal.
“We have lots of data and luckily our software program has features that allow us to configure any element of data in our system and run reports based on a number of variables,” Greenstein says. “I would encourage any DC when they are looking at new technology to have it integrated and able to run reports on any variable in the system. That really helps you understand your business because questions will come up and you can pull specific points to answer them.”
Customization is also an important factor for Donahue, who recommends that you find software with key performance indicators (KPIs) that help you. Ask things about your software such as “can you customize your data collection to zero in on areas that interest you, how long does that take, and how easy is it to get the KPIs you want?”
By being able to pull specific data reports from your software, you can readily address problems in your practice.
“Let’s just say your revenue is low one month, and you don’t have the ability to determine why your payer or class of payments are under-performing, then how do you know how to fix the problem?” Greenstein says. “You have to drill down into the data and know where revenue is low compared to billing to easily identify the claims and then fix the problem by getting those claims paid.”
Using the correct software means you can take vast amounts of data and turn it into a valuable resource that not only benefits your business but also your patients.
Back to business
Data collection provides critical information to support financial and operational decisions in your practice.
Gathering data about your business means that you will know the ins and outs of your practice in objective terms. Instead of just thinking that the practice is doing well or not, you will have hard data to show you where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
Data can also help with patients because using clinical data can help improve care. Analyzing data from your practice to see how you can
improve visit times and patient satifaction as well as things like online reviews can lead to happier patients when they have better outcomes. With better outcomes come strong referrals that help your practice thrive.
Using data to power your practice also means that you stay competitive in an ever-crowded healthcare market. “If you aren’t thinking about continuous improvement and how you can deliver better outcomes for your patients, you’d better start,” Greenstein says. “Otherwise you are going to be at the bottom of the barrel.”
Using big data for your practice doesn’t have to be intimidating, but it is something you should be paying attention to. Collecting the correct data points and having software to make sense of the information you gather are critical to making the best use of your practice data. By using data analytics, you are not only helping your business but you are also ensuring that you are providing the best possible patient care.
Casey Nighbor is the associate editor of Chiropractic Economics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-395- 3389, or through ChiroEco.com.
1 Logi Analytics. “What is Big Data.” http://www.logianalytics.com/bi-trends/what-is- bigdata. Published Oct. 10, 2013. Accessed July 11 2016.