Smarter Decisions, Superior Outcomes

3 Types of Data to Help Make Provider Decisions Smarter

Posted by Kathleen Sabo on August 15, 2016 at 11:00 AM
With a wide range of patient information collected throughout hospitals, physician’s offices, and medical and pharmacy claims, we have seen an unprecedented amount of information waiting to be used by physicians and providers alike. Healthcare providers need accessible data to make the best clinical decisions at the point of care. But quality healthcare depends on the quality data.
Quality data allows for more accurate diagnoses, more effective treatment strategies, and provide higher quality service overall.In this article, we examine three valuable sources of data that every provider should leverage in order to make smarter decisions.


1. Data from Other Practices

EPrescribe.jpgData sharing is a key in creating quality care. Providers that share data have a better chance of lessening some of the barriers that stand between preventative care, planned treatment paths, and positive outcomes. Coordinated care has traditionally been hampered by disparate health deliver systems. Accessible data and usable sharing systems have the ability to change that. For example, a physician may refer a patient to a dermatologist and provide all relevant information about the patient. Providers across primary, secondary, and tertiary care services must have access to one another's data to streamline patient services. Many practices also form groups, which can specialize in a single type of care or multiple care options. Even practices within the same specialty can benefit from data sharing to improve the accuracy, efficiency, and effectiveness of diagnoses, prescriptions, and treatment incentives.

2. Data from PMP Systems

Prescription monitoring program (PMP) systems collect and store data on prescriptions issued to patients. Healthcare providers, pharmacists, and other medical professionals can use this information to help prevent prescription drug abuse, misuse, and diversion. As of now, forty-nine states have adopted formal PMP systems or enacted legislation to establish one.

The PMP consolidates all information reported by various pharmacies and drug providers including community organizations, hospitals, clinics, and local or out-of-state prescription drug vendors that deliver to providers or patients. Members of the program must submit this information on a regular (usually weekly) basis. In general, submission requirements apply to drugs categorized under Schedule II, III, IV, and V. These schedules encompass prescription drugs with the highest risk for abuse, misuse, or dependence in medical, recreational, or illegal settings.

PMP data is then reviewed and organized by the state’s respective administration to help medical providers and the general public make smarter decisions. Generally, the administration’s responsibilities include:

  • Analyzing trends in drug prescription and dispensing
  • Making patient prescription records accessible to healthcare providers and prescription drug dispensers
  • Educate healthcare providers, patients, and the general public
  • Report drug information to local, state, and federal legal and regulatory agencies

Many PMPs have several years’ worth of prescription data—dispensing records, clinical records, and usage records—that is organized and can be made available by request. The potential that can be found in PMP data is immeasurable and can allow for coordinated care on the city, county, and state level. 

3. Baseline and Trend/Risk DataBusiness_Report-1.jpg

Baseline data refers to initial measurements collected. This data serves as a starting point and is used by healthcare providers to gauge the effectiveness of quality improvement strategies and allow for analysis and maintenance of quality improvements. As you take more measurements across different settings and populations, you will be able to draw more accurate conclusions and refine the decision-making process.

Incorporating baseline data into the decision-making process will only continue to enhance the existing infrastructures for quality measurements, improvements, and outcomes. You’ll also want to analyze trend and risk data collected both inside your organization and from partner providers and PMP systems. A dashboard report is a handy tool available with most spreadsheet programs (e.g. Microsoft Excel) that provides a convenient overview of key measurements to help you spot important trends. Variables that can be reported include patient age, frequency of visits, patient satisfaction, cost and revenue, and overall clinical performance.


Data is always evolving and expanding, and it's crucial for healthcare providers to stay up to date. Successful providers know how to access data quickly, organize data into easily interpreted charts, graphs, and reports, and use the data to make decisions that improve patients' lives. Integrating data from other practices can benefit many stakeholders in healthcare with a deeper, more intuitive understanding of a patient’s history that can be specified and actionable. It can also assist providers in measuring outcomes, knowing what practices and policies work to create quality care. Make sure your organization has structured data management procedures.


Topics: Meaningful Use, data sharing, EHR, provider workflow,, data quality

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