Data – It’s about how you use it.

“Hiding within those mounds of data is knowledge that could change the life of a patient, or change the world.” – Atul Butte, MD, PhD, Stanford Medicine’s Summer 2012’s Special Report

In this digital era, a vast pool of data is captured and stored every millisecond – be it your medical records when you visit your doctor or what you ate for lunch today via your Twitter or Facebook account. E-commerce websites are constantly recording and using your data for a customized marketing and sales experience. Though this overload of data can turn into a nuisance for the end user, data can be used to transform lives if used thoughtfully. For example, healthcare data can be used to identify the patients with higher risk of developing diabetes, which in turn can encourage a healthy lifestyle to mitigate this risk. At Improvement Path Systems (IPS), we are dedicated to responsibly handling and mining patient data to support clinical decision making and process improvement in healthcare.

Staffing Decisions in an Emergency Department

How many nurses and physicians do we need on the day shift today? Should we change our shift times? Do we need to hire more staff? How do we manage our costs? Can we reduce patient wait times? These are some of the questions an administrator in the Emergency Department often struggles to answer. Most of the time, these decisions are based on anecdotal references, which are different than the reality, and are often more “firefighting” in nature than strategic.

IPS has developed a staffing data model to leverage the vast pool of data from EMR systems that supports informed/effortless decision making. Data is used to assess trends and seasonality in patient census and arrival rates, which in turn drive staffing decisions. It allows administrators to run multiple what-if-scenarios to find the optimum shift times and staffing ratios to meet their demand. Leveraging data helps increase the accuracy and efficiency of staffing decisions to better serve the unscheduled patient demand in an emergency department.

Improving the Efficiency of Operating Rooms

Hospitals can improve their operational efficiency and reduce costs through better utilization of their operating rooms. There is a fine balance between scheduling too many or too few cases per day – too many can result in increased ancillary services and overtime costs, while too few can sky rocket the costs due to underutilized resources. In-depth data analysis can provide insights into current utilization rates, turn-over-time between cases, accuracy of case estimates, last minute cancellation rates, etc. These insights can help identify gaps in current processes and support the design of future state processes focused on reducing waste, improving access to care and increasing overall efficiency.  Additionally, these insights can lead to better scheduling of operating rooms by capturing potential white spaces, which would increase utilization rates and further drive down costs.

Determining the Location of a New Medical Facility

Data can help hospitals in making high level decisions such as determining the location of their new medical facility. Patient zip codes can be visualized on a geographical map using density and contour plots, which can reveal areas of highly concentrated demand. Juxtaposing this with existing medical service locations will highlight service gaps and potential locations for the new facility that will enable the organization to better serve their patients. Drive time analysis can provide additional decision support by quantifying the impact each location option would have on patient drive time from their home to the medical care location. This can be a major factor in a patient’s decision regarding where to seek care.

Data is an extremely powerful resource, and Improvement Path Systems has the experience and Data Science tools needed to extract hidden treasures and translate them into consumable information. This information serves as a guiding light and drives action, increasing the probability of getting desired outcomes – from operational excellence to saving lives.


About the Author

Prakruti Shah is a Data Scientist at Improvement Path Systems with experience working on process improvement projects in both military and private sector hospitals. She has a cumulative experience of about 8 years across domains including Healthcare, Automotive, and Management Consultancy. Prakruti holds a Bachelor’s in Engineering, a Master’s in Business Management, and a Master’s in Business Analytics & Management Information Systems. She enjoys building creative data models and combines her data science capabilities with business and process related knowledge to drive successful execution of healthcare projects.


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