Health care providers are overwhelmed with data. Claims, referrals, payments, and costs—each received from commercial payers, CMS, HHS, and patients—bury organizations under an avalanche of information. The results can be paralyzing.
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Sifting through the noise and finding the signal can be frustrating, if not impossible, task. That's why having a standard approach, one that is repeatable and well-defined, is so important for organizations trying to understand where they fit in an ever-changing health care landscape. The Advisory Board takes the guesswork out of the equation with our approach, outlined below.
1. Take a disciplined approach to defining the scope of the question.
Determine your approach to breaking down your big question or problem in advance, and ask detailed questions with defined goals. Questions should be more akin to, "How much volume for cardiac surgery do we need to support our program?" as opposed to, "How can we improve our cardiac surgery program?" The former question is a more productive one to ask, because it has an exact target and indicates a path forward. The latter does not. Trying to answer the second questions leads to wasted time and results that aren't specific to the desired outcome.
2. Break down analytics into digestible sections targeting specific questions.
After outlining the goal of the project and the problem it is trying to solve, the next step is to determine the approach and the analyses that will provide the best information. Breaking up the question into easily digestible and understandable sections helps focus the efforts of the project and allows the analyses to be more focused. Continuing with the previous example, an organization can split its question into two sections:
- What are the volumes it's currently bringing in and what volumes can it expect to bring to its cardiac surgery program?
- What are the costs associated with running that program?
3. Key takeaways pull together all analyses.
Finally, synthesizing the results in an easily viewed and digestible manner is crucial for getting buy-in for your takeaways. Ideally, this overview can be presented on a single-page that highlights a few choice analyses underscoring the results of the assessment. Taking our cardiac surgery example to its end, an overview would show the cost to the organization in dollars, the number of volumes currently in the program, and the revenue associated with each volume to assess the program's feasibility.
While much of this advice can seem basic, having a rigorous and repeatable approach to market analyses is crucial for providers to be able to understand their markets and have the best information available when making decisions about their direction.
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