Practices need to constantly focus on the future: to ascertain how to better care for patients with complex and chronic health care needs, as well as maintaining financial sustainability in an ever changing economic environment. More proactive and effective use of clean, current and accurate practice data can support practices to improve health outcomes for their communities as well as improve business efficiency and ensure the sustainability of the practice workforce.
The quality of patient care is as good as the quality of practice data and how this data is used. Practice data provides important population health information that can be used to target specific health issues or populations in the community, and to measure improvement over time. While primary health care staff may be aware of this, it is important to reflect on what implications data usage has for patients’ health as well as business processes.
Identifying diabetic patients or all patients over 75 years for example, enables practices to follow-up on care plans, diabetic annual cycles of care and/or health assessments to ensure they are complete and up to date. This has clear health benefits for patients to ensure effective health management, but is also beneficial to the practice as opportunities may be identified to improve the billing of Medicare item numbers to support this work, and the data may provide evidence to support further funding.
Identifying the number of patients requiring respiratory support and education for a chronic lung condition and the need for care planning with team care arrangements may influence the practices’ business model. Data on patient numbers, type of care needed, care planning, follow-up care and reviews may determine that service delivery models need to change. Staff numbers, ratios or staff mix may need review (for example, could the practice use another nurse or allied health staff member?) or the practice data may provide evidence to support a business case for a CDM nurse clinic.
There are also a number of important broader implications for improving the use of practice data, such as reducing hospitalisations, increasing revenue to support staff positions, practice viability and strategic planning and preparing practices for PHN commissioning and other alternative funding opportunities.
If you are interested in further discussion about the use of practice data to improve health and business outcomes contact us to organise a workshop with us or give us a call.