Data Mining for Solutions

How hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic are using data to improve patient satisfaction

Data mining for solutions to patient satisfaction

Hospitals and health care organizations are using data to help boost patient satisfaction scores. (Photo: U.S. News & World Report)

Big data is a growing trend in modern health care, and hospitals and other medical facilities alike are starting to figure out how to apply this data to help improve from the inside out. Principles like patient satisfaction, patient communication and employee satisfaction are a top priority, and now health groups from across the country are finding out that data can be used to focus in on these priorities.

The Cleveland Clinic is one hospital that’s finding out how to use data mining to fix key issues within their facility. In 2009, Dr. James Merlino took over as chief patient experience officer. At that time, the Clinic’s patient satisfaction scores had leveled off, and even declined in some cases, and Merlino had a situation that needed to be addressed. He found that analytics helped identify three areas where patients felt most dissatisfied: respect, communications among Cleveland Clinic staff and the happiness of employees.

From there, Merlino came up with a plan to get all of his employees on the right track. Better communication and accountability was critical, but data and analytics were the tools used to solve the problem.

“You have to give physicians data across the care continuum to drive real behavior change,” Merlino added.

Today, patients at the Cleveland Clinic are noticing the difference. Patient satisfaction is up in a big way, with 82 percent of patients giving high ratings to the facility, while 86 percent said they would recommend the Clinic to friends and family. This is an increase from when Merlino first arrived; in 2009 the same criteria came in at 66 percent and 76 percent, respectively.

Big data on a small scale

The trend isn’t exclusive to large health care organizations like the Cleveland Clinic. Beaufort Memorial Hospital in Beaufort, South Carolina is a 197-bed facility that sees 55,000 emergency room visits a year, on top of 200,000 outpatient visits and 10,000 inpatient admissions. The hospital often found that it didn’t have enough beds to keep up with demand, and this was an issue that Edward Ricks, CIO and vice president of information services, wanted to zero in on.

Ricks found that the hospital could save roughly $435,000 a year just by moving patient discharges up by half a day. Earlier discharges meant that new patients could be assigned a room more quickly, which could increase capacity while also allowing the potential for higher revenues from more patients. After applying data and analytics to track patient flow, Beaufort physicians began writing 50 percent of discharge orders to release patients by noon. Management was soon able to up that goal to 9 a.m. with great success. Now, the hospital is using the same technology to improve daily planning for things like prescriptions, wheelchair transportation and room cleaning.

“Our primary objective is reducing length of stay,” said Ricks.

For more information on how hospitals are using data mining for improvement, click here: Cleveland Clinic, Other Health Groups Use Data to Boost Patient Satisfaction.


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