The world is awash in data; everywhere you look, you can find numbers and statistics from every measured activity, even those you’d rather not see. (Leave me alone, Screen Time Report.) But you wouldn’t know it from examining many modern rehab therapy practices. According to the most recent State of Rehab Therapy report, only 51% of providers are leveraging outcomes data in their practices—and that represents the high water mark for overall data utilization. In short, data collection in rehab therapy is a problem.
According to the report, smaller practices struggle the most with collecting and leveraging data—which makes sense given the resources that data collection requires and the time it demands. More than that, it’s a matter of providers in smaller settings simply not knowing what to do or what information to collect. In the report, 22% of respondents stated that the biggest challenge to better data collection was the lack of clear guidance on what to collect and how often to collect it. So, we’re here to help direct you on what rehab therapists need to do to effectively collect data in your practice.
Track the right numbers.
One of the biggest challenges with data collection in rehab therapy can be trying to parse it into usable information. Modern technology makes it easy to generate all sorts of numbers about what’s going on in your data. However, not all of them will be particularly useful to understanding what’s happening at your practice. To get a grip on your practice’s health, you need to track key performance indicators (KPIs)—the numbers that give you the clearest picture of what’s happening throughout the business.
Outcomes data is one crucial aspect you want to be tracking—and is perhaps the best measure of your performance and the relative health of those you’re treating. Beyond that, there are a few numbers you should know to ensure your performance is on the right track:
- Cost per visit;
- Revenue per visit;
- Vacancy rate;
- Cancellation and no-show rate;
- Net collection rate;
- Denial and rejection rates;
- Customer acquisition cost; and
- Net Promoter Score®.
There are of course others (which you can explore in this blog post), but these are some of the big ones you need to know to make yours a data-driven practice.
Collect complete data as much as possible.
You need comprehensive information for your data to tell you anything useful. Any number-cruncher will tell you that more data points lead to more accurate results in the end—so if you want to be able to draw meaningful conclusions about your practice performance, you need to make a point of collecting those KPIs for every patient, every visit, and every bill that goes out.
Unfortunately, data quality remains a significant problem in rehab therapy and healthcare more broadly. According to this article, four significant challenges to healthcare data quality are:
- Inaccurate or incomplete patient data;
- Duplicate records;
- Inconsistent terminology or coding; and
- Poor data integration.
Fortunately, that same article offers some advice on overcoming those challenges.
- Create rules and policies on standardized collection, storage, and data sharing across the organization.
- Standardize the terminology, coding, and formatting so your data is uniform.
- Clean your data to remove duplicates and errors.
- Train your staff on how to collect data — and which data they should use.
- Have integrated technology to ensure data is easily shared and accessible across all the platforms you use in your practice.
That last point is important; in fact, it’s the driving force behind PXM. You need quality data, but you don’t want the collection process to take hours—hours that are better spent with patients. That’s why integrated solutions with built-in analytics can simplify data collection in rehab therapy.
Turn that data into action items.
Here is perhaps the biggest hurdle to data collection in rehab therapy: even if they collect every bit of data on every patient and every claim, most providers are at a loss as to how to scrutinize that data and leverage it to make positive changes. It’s certainly a valid concern; many therapists have lamented that their education included scant training on the business side of rehab therapy—if there was any training at all. Training or not, the modern rehab therapy landscape requires PTs, OTs, and SLPs to get better and more efficient in their practice to stay afloat—and to do that, they need to use their data.
Leverage outcomes data to improve care.
For some providers, patient-reported outcomes measures (PROMs) may be most often associated with MIPS. However, given that rehab therapy is shifting its focus toward value-based care, it’s something that every provider should be looking to adopt. Not only can PROMs help providers assess the quality of care they’re providing, they give you a glimpse into how patients perceive the care they’ve received—which may not align with what you see in your objective measures.
PROMs are also an important tool in a healthcare landscape that is increasingly focused on the customer experience. If you’re looking to negotiate with payers, it helps to have data that backs up your argument that you’re providing exceptional care with exceptional results—especially if that data is coming from the patients themselves.
Leverage Net Promoter Score® to enhance engagement.
Getting those positive outcomes requires you to keep patients engaged and adhering to their treatment as much as possible—a difficult task when they’re spending all but a couple of hours a week outside of your clinic. Fortunately, it’s fairly simple to get patient satisfaction back on track. Net Promoter Score® data allows you to see when patients are drifting away from treatment so that you can make changes to bring them back. If you’re seeing trends or specific points where patients are falling off, it might alert you to a larger problem with your workflows or your patient engagement.
Leverage billing data to improve collections.
One spot where rehab therapists may be leaving actual money on the table is in their billing and revenue cycle management (RCM) operations. With a more data-driven approach to billing, you can spot inefficiencies in your processes that create delays in your getting paid—and in patients getting their bills in a timely manner. You’ll also be able to spot trends in claims denials to determine which payers and codes are causing issues. And with better data on the revenue you’re collecting, you can create better, more accurate budgets and forecasts for better financial health for your practice.
Data collection in rehab therapy has been a sore spot for too long, and if the industry wants to make it through the current period of financial constraints, it’s going to need to use every tool in its toolkit to improve. Fortunately, data is the low-hanging fruit that offers a great return on the time and money spent—if providers are willing to take advantage.