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Isn't There an App for That?

By Marcia Peterson

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Just a few weeks ago it was Thanksgiving and I wrote about the corner market in 1911 and here we are a week from Christmas and I am again thinking about the similarities between healthcare and other industries. Holidays take a great deal of analytic energy ...perhaps an understatement.

Making a list...checking it twice-remember? Today there are many lists. Gift lists, friends and family for card mailing lists, mail-the gift before the "deadline" lists, menu and food shopping lists, party lists, and endless "to-do" lists. Today, my search for a little red truck becomes comparison shopping across sites, look for features in non-identical products, looking at shipping/delivery costs and options, selecting gift or no gift wrap and then finally making a decision that in days past was a trip the favorite store and finding exactly what I needed (ok, more limited choices), and actually seeing the gift before having it wrapped and ready to go. The holiday season has become much more complex. Family is now across the globe.

The point? In the hospital, care providers are always juggling multiples and priorities, cross referencing multiple lists to ensure nothing is dropped and the most critical rise to the top of the list, balancing expectations, adjusting to dynamic shifts and changes and having some things simply "unavailable". Much like preparing for this season, the complexity of care delivery and care transition has also become much more challenging and requires analytical capabilities to be able to interpret behavior, determine options and track results. Today, the viability of care delivery facilities and patient's lives depend on data unimagined in the not so distant past. Shorter lengths of stay, technologically advanced procedures, patients transitioned to sun acute facilities prior to home or instead of home and all with complex requirements for their continued support and path to better states of health.

To meet the more complex requirements of today we need analytics to help make better short term and long term decisions. If I knew, for instance, that based on past behavior and current demand I would be short 12 beds for critical patients at this time tomorrow I could act on that information If I knew that discharging specific types of patients with specific profiles will likely result in a readmission within 15 days I could create a plan to mitigate the risk for those patient profiles. If I knew that there was a better way to accommodate more patients within the system by looking at patterns of cohort behavior I would take action to change the process. Today, even the most savvy healthcare administrators "guess" and respond based on experience and intuition. What if we could provide them with more than a guess? What if we could provide them with analytics to help them have confidence in the decisions that that are making in the moment? This is the power of analytics.

So on December 24 when I am running at full speed trying to finish all the things that I need to for the holiday season, I am sure I will hear myself saying "why isn't there an app for that?"

Happy Holidays Everyone!


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