5 Ways Data Improves the Patient Experience

Data is available in an over-abundance in health care settings, and a patient’s experience is becoming more and more digitized. The key, however, is knowing how to process and use this information to improve the patient experience and outcome. Below are five ways that data – and its effective utilization – can positively impact a patient’s experience, from first response to hospital discharge and beyond.  

  1. More Complete Impression Information

When a call is received and a bus deployed, every moment is critical in creating a positive outcome for the patient. EMS technicians are tasked with assessing and recording a wide array of vital information in a high-stress environment, while focusing on stabilizing and transporting a patient whose symptoms can range from the simple to the life-threatening.  

Today’s ambulances can be outfitted with technology that makes accurately recording data easier than ever, increasing the likelihood of patients arriving at the emergency department with complete impression records. Software tools can even be customized for specific incident cases to walk a technician, step-by-step, through an electronic patient care record (ePCR) and ensure that no important data point is missed.  

  1. Easier Handoff to Emergency Department

Now that the EMTs have successfully accomplished the goal of stabilizing, transporting, and recording primary information about a patient, the next major hurdle is handing him or her off to the emergency department as efficiently as possible. This is a key step in ensuring a seamless transition in care, and it’s imperative that the nurses and physicians at the receiving hospital are able to access and utilize the data recorded by the EMTs.  

Today, agnostic software tools like Health Data Exchange (HDE) bridge the common “interoperability gap” between first responders and emergency departments by offering a single, agnostic platform that allows EMS to share the run sheet with hospital staff, who can then pull it into the hospital-based electronic health record (EHR) system. Gone are the days of carbon copy paper records that must be shared with various departments throughout the hospital; instead, all patient information is easily ported over electronically upon arrival. 

  1. More Updated and Consistent Records During Treatment

Once the patient is fully in the care of the hospital staff, the ability to easily record and access data continues to play a vital role. In decades past, physicians would have to call down to their medical records department to request specific information, including the EMS run sheet. Today, the use of ePCRs makes inputting patient statistics easier than ever, tracking them seamless, and accessing them as easy as a few clicks in a software environment. 

This digital data also helps drive down human error in an environment where hours are often exceptionally long and stress levels high. Making it easier to record data in the most efficient manner helps the nursing staff who are often working with multiple, high-demand patients. Easily viewing a complete, updated record makes it more likely for a physician – or a team of health care providers working together on a complicated case – to make the best treatment decisions possible and achieve more positive outcomes. 

  1. More Efficient Follow-Up

Once a patient is discharged, there is still more work to be done by health care professionals. For example, today, as insurance companies continue to look for ways to drive down costs, many are employing “care coordinators” who follow up with patients via phone and email once the patient has been discharged. These coordinators, who are oftentimes RNs, ensure the former patient understands the instructions for at-home care, have follow up appointments set, do not have questions on medication, and know how to reach out for in-network help if needed in the future.  

This support not only increases the likelihood of a healthier post-hospital life, but reduces cost for the insurance provider by reducing out of network emergencies and additional care that could have been prevented. Having access to complete, accurate patient records is imperative to the work of a care coordinator to fully understand that patient’s history and treatment record. 

Additionally, members of the hospital’s billing department benefit greatly from accurate, data-rich records in processing payments and receiving reimbursements for care. Rather than recording and transposing stacks of paper records, they can focus their time and attention on the work of processing the claims themselves. This not only makes a hospital’s billing department more efficient, but also helps reduce staff stress and fatigue as they work with thousands of patient records. 

  1. Better Care in the Future

Finally, accurate and easily available data improves the overall state of health care across the board, as it allows administrators and leaders to review incidents and processes to identify areas for improvement. HDE software allows hospitals to share back information with EMS, so that gaps can be noted and plans for improvement can be made.  

Digitized records also make it easier to aggregate and dissect data, making it easier to complete audits required at state and national levels, as well as showing the need for additional staffing or support in specific areas. This helps ensure that health care professionals at all points of the spectrum will have the tools, funding, and support they need to deliver the best possible care for future patients.