Medical care has evolved over the past 100 years from an anecdotal, basic support system to the advanced technological environment we enjoy today. It remains far from perfect, however, so it’s important to improve clinical outcomes continuously as care is provided. But what are clinical outcomes and how does data enable healthcare professionals to improve these?
What are Examples of Clinical Outcomes?
Examples of clinical outcomes include measurable changes in a patient’s health, function, or quality of life resulting from the treatment administered. These outcomes are typically measured by tracking data such as mortality, hospital readmission rates, treatment adherence, and patient recovery.
Ways to Improve Clinical Outcomes
Here are some options healthcare organizations can implement to ensure better patient outcomes, and the role technology plays in these.
- Reduce Medication Non-Adherence
Medication non-adherence is a common problem in most Western countries, according to a study by the World Health Organization. In the U.S., non-adherence causes 50% of treatment failures and 125,000 preventable deaths each year, while increasing avoidable healthcare costs by $290 billion. Reasons include:
- high drug costs,
- fear of side effects or addiction,
- lack of symptoms,
- misunderstanding how the medication works, and
- personal barriers like depression and forgetfulness.
Patient adherence programs, automated refills, patient education, and in-depth patient consultation can all help to increase adherence and improve clinical outcomes.
- Improve Transparency
The medical environment is highly competitive. To improve clinical outcomes it requires providers to be transparent about their results to maintain credibility with patients, payers, and suppliers. According to McKinsey Health Systems, transparency is vital in healthcare for several reasons:
- It compels practitioners to be more accountable, leading to better patient outcomes. For example, when cardiac surgeons in New York began publishing outcomes data for coronary artery bypass grafting in 1989, the procedure mortality rates dropped by 40% because of greater transparency.
- Drug cost transparency is critical for both payors and patients. It helps patients optimize the usage of their benefit plans, and enables health plans to keep track of costs through real-time pricing alerts. This allows PBMs to align their company interests with those of plan sponsors with coverage based on the lowest net costs instead of higher rebates.
- Transparency improves productivity because when comparative performance information is available about the employees in a healthcare organization, peer scrutiny helps boost their output.
- Practicing financial transparency helps healthcare organizations reduce operating costs, both through increased productivity and by encouraging workers to make decisions that save money.
To achieve transparency, providers need to have suitable measurement procedures in place to ensure regulatory compliance, performance, and treatment results. Identifying meaningful benchmarks requires patient engagement in the gathering of data.
In the U.K., Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) use surveys to determine health gains after common elective surgeries, which are proving helpful for this purpose.
- Apply Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics play an important role in enhancing diagnoses and accelerating patient care. This discipline uses actionable data modeling, process automation, and artificial intelligence to analyze large amounts of data. The results enable health systems to:
- Track drug prices proactively and steer patients towards alternative drugs before rising costs cause non-adherence issues
- Predict future treatment costs and apply these to long-term management to achieve better results
- Monitor the quality and efficacy of patient care and identify where changes in the treatment plan are needed
- Process cohort data to ensure medication supply matches demand and avoid critical drug shortages.
Predictive analytics enable care decisions to be made in real time, improving both patient care and the provider’s service.
- Focus on Follow-Up Care
Improved focus on follow-up care can reduce relapses significantly. With hospital readmissions reaching almost 35% among some demographic groups, healthcare providers are embracing the overall patient journey to improve clinical outcomes and reduce readmission costs. Focusing on managed care that includes comprehensive follow-up through communication, digital monitoring, telehealth visits, and better medication adherence can potentially save hospitals over $500 million a year in readmission penalties.
- Deploy Outcomes Data
Health outcomes research identifies and measures the links between treatments or interventions and the actual results achieved. It typically incorporates clinical outcomes, financial impact, and a range of other metrics, including patients’ reported quality of life and satisfaction. The data enables providers to determine what works and what doesn’t, and how patient safety and outcomes can be improved.
By drawing on data from medical records, insurance databases, patient questionnaires, and other sources, researchers can identify areas of weakness, gaps in treatment protocols, and deeper insights than those generated by clinical trials. This intelligence helps providers customize treatments to deliver population-centered healthcare that benefits the greatest number of recipients.
- Increase Diagnosis Accuracy
Errors in diagnostics are failures to identify the nature of an illness accurately in a timely manner. Statistics show these errors occur in around 12 million Americans every year, and almost 50% have the potential to cause severe harm. Autopsy research shows diagnostic errors contribute to up to 10% of patient deaths.
Providers can increase diagnosis accuracy using workforce management software to optimize in-house resources, while comprehensive clinical data can increase treatment efficiency and minimize readmissions. By developing a reporting environment where organizations and professionals can share and analyze data on diagnostic errors and adverse events, providers can uncover and implement changes that improve the diagnostic process.
- Optimize Treatment Planning
Most medical conditions qualify for more than one potential treatment. When clinicians choose the correct option the first time around (instead of, say, the least expensive one), they see significantly better patient outcomes. The increased use of electronic health records and real-world data enables physicians to avoid implementing treatments unsuitable for a patient with specific comorbidities.
Since more than 133 million Americans suffer from chronic diseases, choosing the ideal treatment is essential to positive patient outcomes. Clinical pathways, sophisticated diagnostic methods, and evidence-based practices allow practitioners to optimize treatment planning for patients, helping them improve clinical outcomes.
Achieving better patient results is the primary goal of Xevant’s intelligent analytics platform. Discover how detailed, actionable data can help you optimize treatment planning, manage drug costs and adherence, and improve clinical outcomes. Contact us to schedule a demo today.