Using Big Data to Improve Patient Satisfaction and Revenue

We live in a world of endless choices. We spend hours researching peer reviews on everything from restaurants to toothpaste brands. If we are pleased with a product or service, we will leave a rating – and, may even take the time to post a detailed review.

Nowadays, the opinion of our peers is at the heart of our decision-making process. A whopping 92 percent of us trust recommendations from peers over brands, even if we don’t know them.

Data says that people trust recommendations over brands

The healthcare industry is no different.

If we are willing to dedicate our limited energy to researching and reviewing toothpaste brands, it seems logical we would spend even more energy deciding on healthcare providers.

Consumerism has significantly shaped the healthcare industry in recent years. Patients are now making more informed decisions about where to receive their care based on data such as peer reviews and star ratings.

To better understand how healthcare providers are using data to attract and retain patients, improve patient satisfaction and increase revenue, we spoke with Adam Shad, Kforce Senior Vice President of our Healthcare Practice.

Adam, you have worked with over 100 of the nation’s largest healthcare payers and providers. How important is data to providers?

Health systems have large amounts of data at their fingertips. For example, based on the data in patient surveys, health systems can quickly correct patient follow-up from nurses and physicians before it affects the retention of a patient. How they choose to leverage this data will ultimately affect the satisfaction and retention of patients.

Big Data can help healthcare payers make decisions

What kind of data analytics is important to healthcare providers, and how is it used?

The type of data collected now is different than in years past. Historically, we had access to simple data such as clinical, financial and claims data. Now, we have access to many more types of data, including patient-generated data such as surveys, cost data and more.

As the industry shifts toward a data-driven environment, what challenges do providers face while working with massive amounts of data?

The consumption of healthcare data over the past few years has been through the roof. What to do with that data analytics has been a challenge. The healthcare industry is a little different than the finance domain, where someone can withdraw money out of any bank’s ATM, regardless of their bank subscriber. In healthcare, numerous challenges are preventing data usage, such as HIPAA compliance and security threats associated with the data.

Data breaches in the U.S. cost the industry 6.2 billion

If not protected, shared information within healthcare runs the risk of data vulnerability. Solutionary, an NTT Group security company, reports that the healthcare industry was the victim of 88% of all ransomware attacks in U.S. industries in 2016. From a technology standpoint, the data has also been limited for several reasons, most notably the lack of integration amongst systems and healthcare providers.

How are providers leveraging data to encourage patient loyalty?

People expect transparency and a wealth of information at their fingertips. That is no different in healthcare, especially when making an important decision such as choosing a provider or facility for you or your loved one.

When deciding on which hospital to go to, patients are paying close attention to peer reviews and star ratings. Savvy providers recognize this and use the patients’ feedback to improve processes, patient care and patient engagement.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has implemented a hospital star rating process, which provides transparency on how hospitals are performing. The star ratings are derived from data to measure several different categories including mortality, readmissions and patient experience. The intent of the star rating process is to allow the patient to make the best decision on where to go for their care.

How is patient satisfaction affecting revenue?

One area of significant impact is the revenue cycle management process, which begins well before patients visit a physician or complete a procedure. It doesn’t end until there are zero dollars owed. Since data is so obtainable in the industry, and there are infinite sources of public data measurements, patients are now making more informed decisions on where they want to receive their care. 

The revenue cycle process, most notably billing and collections, has a direct influence on patient satisfaction and experience. For example, if a patient has a good experience with a physician but the discharge, billing and collections process is a nightmare, the overall satisfaction of the experience and likelihood of that patient returning will be minimized. On the contrary, a positive revenue cycle process can enhance the impression of the healthcare provider overall.

Utilizing quality satisfaction data is critical to improving loyalty, and loyalty is essential for a provider to maintain their market share. I agree with Joe Greskoviak, as quoted in this article:

Increasing patient satisfactio and revenue

In terms of talent acquisition, have providers changed their hiring profile?

Absolutely! The value of care and the experience received is becoming increasingly important within healthcare. The type of talent that these health systems are bringing in is changing right alongside it. The concept of customer service is stretching well beyond the historical definition. Every employee, consultant or advisor who is engaging with a patient of a health system must possess a strong customer service mentality. I was recently speaking with a Senior IT leader within a hospital, and she mentioned that a candidate’s IT experience would only take them so far today. They must have the ability if presented to interact and treat a customer (in this case a patient) with respect and service.

The healthcare space continues to evolve. What will 2025 look like?

Healthcare has certainly evolved over the past 20 to 30 years. All indications are leading to the prediction that it will continue over the next decade. The amount of electronic healthcare data captured over the last 5 to 10 years is unbelievable. We’re at a point where data is still being synthesized, evaluated and analyzed. There have been massive movements in the industry where health systems have leveraged analytics to make more informed and predictable decisions to treat patients. However, we’re only at the beginning. Technology and the use of data would and should completely transform the way that healthcare is delivered.

Who would’ve thought 10 years ago that there would be an app where a patient could consume care from a local physician? Once the industry gets control of the data and makes better sense of it, healthcare will change, similar to how Uber transformed the transportation industry.