I spent my first two years at CipherHealth asking the same questions that a lot of our customers ask: why do patients get readmitted? What specific factors are leading to low HCAHPS scores? What are the industry best practices for managing care transitions? These are all important things to examine, but the questions themselves suggest a way of thinking about the world that approaches providers as if they’re in a vacuum.
My next two years will be spent asking a different set of questions:
What factors motivate patients to stop coming to one hospital and begin going to another? How can we trace a readmission at one facility back to a knowledge gap that arose after a visit to another facility? What are the best ways that CipherHealth can use its data to improve delivery of care for high-cost patients who often seek care from different hospital networks and, often, across state lines? These are questions I’ve begun to ask as I started to see increasing numbers of patients from some of our partner hospitals unexpectedly appearing at two, three, or more other health systems where we also have a presence.
Of course there’s nothing new about a phenomenon of private companies–like CipherHealth–becoming de facto health information exchanges. What is novel, however, is CipherHealth’s unique database, which not only can tell us which hospitals patients visited but also can tell us what patients’ main clinical and satisfaction concerns were after those visits.
We’ve been able to observe instances wherein patients may complain about long ED wait times or noise at one hospital before switching to a competitor across town. We’ve seen instances where patients have been discharged from one hospital with pneumonia, raised questions about medications on a post-discharge call–questions that were never answered by a provider–and popped up in another hospital’s ED just a few days later.
We’re still in the beginning stages of finding the best ways to recognize these patterns, but we’re excited about the potential of data that combines information about encounters, post-discharge feedback from patients, and outcomes. A primary CipherHealth focus is developing cutting edge products and getting them to market quickly, but opportunities to perform analyses the industry has never seen with data the industry has never seen remind us of the academic value of our work as well. And for us, that’s part of the fun.
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