With the demand for more precise care delivery, the power of predictive analytics is gaining ground across the care continuum. From managing medically complex patients to optimizing operational and financial performance, predictive analytics is transforming approaches from reactive to proactive…when applied correctly. We took a closer look at the promise of predictive analytics in one of our recent CONNECT Summit sessions, Proactive Post-Acute Care: The Promise of Predictive Analytics. Moderated by Gartner VP and Analyst Mandi Bishop, the panel featured Medalogix President and CEO Elliott Wood, Amedisys Senior VP Nick Moscato, and PointClickCare VP & GM of Post-Acute Insights B.J. Boyle.
Different Tools in the Shed Require Specific Skill Sets
Elliott set the scene by describing the four most commonly accepted types of analytics:
- Descriptive – Answers the question, “What happened?” For example, a descriptive analysis by a hospital may show there was a significant spike in ER visits last week.
- Diagnostic – Answers the question, “Why did that happen?” Analyzing the ER patients, it was determined that many of them had the flu.
- Predictive – Answers the question, “How can we use the data we have to predict the future?” Continuing Elliott’s example, the ER could probably predict a three-to-four-month spike in visits due to a flu outbreak.
- Prescriptive – Answers the question, “What should we do with what we know?” For the ER, this means increasing staffing and supplies in anticipation of a patient surge.
A home health data science company, Medalogix focuses on predictive and prescriptive analytics; Elliott noted that many companies have the talent and tools to do their own descriptive and diagnostic analyses in-house. Nick confirmed that Amedisys, which offers home care, hospice and personal care services, has its own internal analytics team, and its partnership with Medalogix is aimed at improving utilization management and optimizing patient care. Nick stated,
“The horsepower they [Medalogix] bring to the predictive space has been very impressive, specifically around identifying patients who are at risk of hospitalization, and matching utilization to actual patient diagnoses and care plans, to drive the best quality outcomes. It’s helped us step up our game over the past couple of years, and propelled us forward.”
From a “System of Record” to a “System of Intelligence”
With its roots in skilled nursing and EHR systems, PointClickCare is focused on long-term, post-acute and senior care across the entire journey. Data from some 3.5 billion residents and patients has passed through PointClickCare’s systems, so the company now uses it to help its customers evaluate and use the similarities revealed.
“First, we talk to them about looking inward, using the data they have to improve clinical care and financial outcomes,” said B.J. “They can improve their operation by leveraging standard content, and seeing who’s at risk for readmission or a condition change. Then we help them to eliminate silos by looking outward. They’re starting to work across the continuum, sharing information with payers and referring partners right when they need it.”
Elliott agreed, saying, “It’s all about what you do with the insight you get. On your own, you can predict some outcomes. But if you work with partners, you can receive much greater value from the analysis. All the data at your disposal can predict a lot, so then use it prescriptively.”
Nick carried that theme forward, pointing out that Amedisys uses predictive analytics to see what might happen…and then what to do after that. In their case, it helps ensure that utilization is appropriate for each patient and their resources are better optimized.
“Don’t Let the Tail Wag the Dog”
All three of our panelists agreed with Mandi that you need clean, structured data to deliver good analytics. They also emphasized that there’s no “one size fits all” in applying predictive analytics, and that it’s a work in progress for most healthcare companies. B.J. advised that before embracing analytics, companies must have a clear idea of the problem(s) they’re trying to solve…and are prepared to be flexible.
When it comes to potential pitfalls, Nick suggested that organizations using predictive analytics must know what questions to ask in an analysis, and be ready to react to what’s revealed. B.J. echoed his warning: “Be focused and tailored to your business, so you don’t over-predict. And be sure it fits into your workflow.”
Elliott insisted that company leadership must stay involved when predictive analytics is implemented. “Your analytics and data science strategy needs to follow your company strategy. You’re impacting the culture- and a lot of people - and doing something transformative. You don’t want to create misalignment.”
Just Scratching the Surface
When Mandi asked the panel, “What’s next?” when it comes to predictive analytics, all three were bullish on the impact it will have – as well as how it will evolve. Elliott pointed out that “machines are learning how to learn, so it’s impossible to know what we’ll be able to do even two years from now.” He sees the potential for predictive analytics to allow clinicians to be their best, by reducing the unnecessary tasks they do outside patient care. B.J. urged companies to embrace the predictive analytics trend. “Get the right data and be prepared to partner. Successful companies will take the data and go on the offensive.”
Nick summed up their optimism: “Predictive capabilities will allow a true continuum of care rather than disparate stops on a health journey. We’ll see the most optimal care delivered by the most optimal professional in the most optimal place at the most optimal time.”
To hear more about predictive analytics, including managing expectations around ROI, addressing staffing challenges and empowering practitioners, you can listen to the entire session. Remember, to harness the full promise of predictive analytics – and its potential to shape the future of post-acute care – data and expertise must flow through your company, your partners and your technology systems.
As Forcura's Director of Communications and Brand Strategy, Kate brings a robust background and knowledge of the healthcare and post-acute industry to Forcura. She also represents Forcura as a social media ambassador at events around the country, is an on-camera reporter and interviewer, and host of our Innovate Jax podcast.