How to use big-data analytics to understand the people you help…

Big data. Everyone’s talking about big data. When it’s used well, data can make your practice more profitable, more efficient and provide better care. In the past, we found ourselves spending days doing lengthy manual research into practice efficiency. We wasted time wading through endless spreadsheets to find significant data. There were long and complex team meetings, and we relied on our ‘gut-feelings’ and guesswork. In other words, old processes of determining how efficient your OMS practice is, has been very IN-efficient.

But… imagine having the ability to determine average chair time cross-referenced by treatment type and/or surgeon. Or imagine comparing your 120-day outstanding A/R percentage against national averages. Maybe you’d like to see if your revised check-in procedures have reduced waiting room times. The possibilities of big data analytics are so exciting. So how can OMS surgery administration teams make sense of so much potential info?

What is ‘big data’?

It is exactly what the name suggests. Big data encompasses all the information that your organization gathers, from every source, in every form. With modern OMS practice software, it’s become easier than ever to collect and organize information about everything you might want to keep track of, from the wait times across all locations to implant case acceptance rate by referring GP. And if you are an administrator for a large multi-location group practice, then the amount of information available to you grows exponentially. But what’s the problem with that? The more data, the better, right? Well, no. Not exactly. Huge amounts of information can sometimes be irrelevant, unverifiable, untrustworthy, can fluctuate hugely, and mislead you. This kind of data hoard can be kind of totally… useless. Unless you know how to interpret it. Luckily, understanding data doesn’t have to be rocket science.

Key Performance Indicators

Understanding KPIs will save OMS administrators a whole lot of time by presenting the most crucial and useful performance indicators. There’s no point poring over pages and pages of balance sheets anymore. Instead, generate KPI reports to streamline your financial data and inform your decision-making. Collating and comparing KPI reports from across surgeries in a multi-location group practice can also help you understand the quirks and perks of the individual clinics you manage.

Step one to generating a useful report is to identify what your surgery goals are. Do you need to retain patients, or are your staff labor percentages currently too high? Would you like to double down on costly overheads, or increase the number of new patients you are welcoming through your doors? These goals and targets will inform your indicators. Here are some examples of common OMS performance indicators:

  • Overheads
  • Case acceptance rates
  • Number of new patients
  • Patients scheduled in
  • Production per surgeon
  • Patient satisfaction (based on post-treatment surveys)

You should be checking in with your performance indicators at least every month, and some software will produce simple infographic-style dashboards to keep you up to date at a glance, and in real-time.

Over the days, weeks and months, key performance indicators will tell you the story of your surgery’s financial health. They will point to trends, recurring problem points and measure improvement. You can compare your multi-location group practices to each other, and check against national averages. However, these reports won’t necessarily explain why your profits and losses are occurring.

IoT and Smart Devices

This is where the Internet of Things comes in handy. The Internet of Things encompasses pretty much anything that connects to the internet. So many of our smart devices interact with the internet on private connections, perhaps without us even noticing. Our smartwatches track our health, our stoplights keep us safe on the roads, our smart wallets know our budgets and our virtual assistants remind us of appointments or tell us what the weather is today in Hawaii. In our modern world, so much of our technology shares and analyses data via the Internet of Things. It is this data that can show us cause and effect. Maybe your patient satisfaction rates are high because you explain post-procedure care clearly, or they appreciate the personal call they get from the surgeon later that day. The ability to easily track simple activities like these is crucial to generating useful performance reports.

Artificial Intelligence

Increasingly, AI is doing all the hard work for you, sorting and presenting only the most relevant and verifiable information to you, in a readable format. And the brilliant thing about AI; it only ever gets better and faster at its job, learning for itself and saving you the hassle of wading through all of your surgery’s data. AI also often collates information across lots of different and diverse data storage platforms, so that you don’t have to keep a track of data that is siloed into multiple software and across practices. There are so many software subscriptions out there that use AI to interpret information, as well as protecting you from cyber theft and other breaches. Lots of these software packages also offer training and onboarding programs. Some of your staff may feel a little weird about using AI and machine learning, and so booking software demos with professionals can help to bridge that gap.

Strategy and leadership

Does your surgery strategy currently put data analytics at the centre of its plan? Here, it is important to have role-clarity about who is responsible for presenting data reports and analytics to the wider strategy team. This role will be key in nurturing the data-driven culture in your surgery and bringing everyone along for the ride.

It can feel daunting to even know where to begin when you are confronted with big data, but when you encourage a data-driven culture at all levels of employment, you will reap the rewards. OMS practice has always been quick on the uptake for smart, helpful, genuinely useful technology. A data-driven culture can make your surgery run smoother, faster, with less time and effort wasted on tasks that could be automated, or conducted by AI. Data done well helps you identify improvement points quickly, solve problems with innovation and lead the way for other OMS surgeries.

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