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Hospital Data Mining Hits Paydirt

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media, November 29, 2010

Perhaps these days the mantra for hospital financial leaders should be based on a familiar seven dwarfs tune used in the Disney classic Snow White: “We dig, dig, dig and we dig, dig, dig, all the day long through. In a mine, where a million diamonds shine.”

How true it is; after all, you’ve likely taken a pick-axe to your budget more than a few times in search of savings, but also in the hopes of finding a hidden gem or two that might offer your facility a glimmer of profitable possibility.

It’s the latter that is infinitely challenging to CFOs; perhaps that’s because in order to uncover the diamonds you need to do more than randomly swing that pick-axe—you need a tool that gives you the precise location of the diamonds among the rocks.

The solution? High-ho, high-ho it’s off to data mine we go!

Data mining, or predictive analytics, can overhaul the conventional hospital billing process, plus offer administrators a much-sought after link between the clinical and the financial. These tools can be used to gather the data needed to support high quality care for a better value while improving the charge recovery process, increasing staff productivity and better controlling costs.

 Without a doubt, there’s money in the data details, though it’s important to realize that not every data mining effort is going to yield billions. Nevertheless, this technology often reveals a few million in unnecessary losses—and these days that can make the difference between red and black for hospital bottom lines.

One area that can benefit from data mining automation is charge recovery; just ask Jason L. Adams, FACHE, vice president of revenue cycle for MultiCare Health System. MultiCare is an integrated health organization made up of four hospitals (Allenmore Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, Mary Bridge Children's Hospital and Tacoma General Hospital), numerous primary care and urgent care clinics, multi-specialty centers, and hospice and home health services. This not-for-profit system based in Tacoma, WA has grown steadily over the years and today is the area's largest provider of healthcare services in Southwestern Washington.

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