In a perfect world, every hospital or clinic would be equipped to provide world-class care. In the real world, however, there are significant differences between organizations. This is true of everything, from patient care and customer service to profitability and potential for growth. And it’s true on a scale that puts a vast gap between the best and worst organizations.
There is a robust debate regarding how organizations are evaluated and how failing organizations can improve. But this piece will focus exclusively on what makes the best organizations the best.
In some cases, it’s true that these organizations simply have more money than their peers. But in most cases, organizations simply have better approaches to communication, management, and environment. That means greatness is something within reach of any healthcare provider.
What Defines Great Healthcare Organizations?
There is no universal answer to this question. The definition of greatness varies widely depending on why you ask and what their agenda is. But for want of a reliable indicator it helps to look at the five-start ratings applied by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to many hospitals in the US.
The ratings are based on an average of scores taken from responses to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. The full-survey is quite extensive but aims to measure patient satisfaction in the following areas:
- Nurse Communication
- Doctor Communication
- Responsiveness of Hospital Staff
- Pain Management
- Communication about Medicine
- Discharge Information
- Cleanliness of Hospital Environment
- Quietness of Hospital Environment
- Overall Rating of Hospital
- Willingness to Recommend Hospital
Stronger scores in each individual category lead to higher composite scores and better ratings from the CMS.
It’s fair to say that the healthcare organizations that excel in the categories above (while also having stellar scores for outcomes like mortality rates) deserve to be distinguished as great healthcare organizations.
How to Improve Each of the Ten Factors
It’s not enough for an organization to improve in just one or even several of the factors. Since ratings are based on averaged scores hospitals must be able to make across-the-board improvements. That is difficult in any environment, but especially in one as complicated, consequential, and costly as healthcare.
The bad news is that organizations are ill-equipped to make these changes on its own. The good news is that with the right tools it’s possible to make changes that are as impactful as they are cost effective.
Data analytics healthcare is an emerging technology that empowers organizations to study themselves both broadly and deeply. They gain a top-down perspective over operations as well as a microscopic focus on individual processes. More importantly, they are able to analyze what does and does not work objectively, instead of having to guess or project.
Take hospital cleanliness, for example. Trying to improve every one of the variables that affects property maintenance is overwhelming. By applying analytics it’s possible to identify the problem areas, suggest actionable opportunities for improvement, and focus resources where they are needed most. As a result, every change brings with it a dramatic improvement.
Analytics is not a panacea, but it is a foundation for change. Once healthcare organizations begin making data-driven decisions they begin making more effective decisions. And when problems need to be addressed, solutions are immediately apparent. There is still hard work left to do, but analytics provides the certainty that it’s work worth doing.
Whether you’re striving for a five-star rating, high patient satisfaction rates, or just a bigger bottom line, the answer exists in the data. Analytics is the map for finding it.
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