Why would Healthcare and Social Assistance organizations use KPIs?
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential tools that can help companies in the healthcare and social assistance industry to measure and improve their performance. These indicators provide a clear and concise way to evaluate the effectiveness of different aspects of a business, and can help managers to identify areas in need of improvement.
The healthcare and social assistance industry is vital for supporting the health, wellbeing, and quality of life for all members of society. However, it is also an extremely complex industry with many moving parts and stakeholders. Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) can provide healthcare and social assistance organizations with crucial data-driven insights to improve operations, strategy, and outcomes. This in-depth article will explore why tracking KPIs is so critical for the healthcare and social assistance industry.
Improving Quality of Care
One of the most important reasons to track KPIs in healthcare is to monitor and improve the quality of care provided to patients and clients. Key metrics around patient safety, mortality rates, readmission rates, infection rates, patient satisfaction, treatment outcomes, and more can highlight areas of strong performance as well as identify potential problems or gaps in care. For instance, tracking readmission rates can signal issues with patient education at discharge or coordination of follow-up care. Meanwhile, monitoring patient satisfaction scores can provide insight into people’s holistic care experience.
When healthcare organizations have access to detailed quality of care KPIs across facilities, departments, and programs, they can zero in on specific issues to address. The data can inform improvement initiatives related to care protocols, staff training, patient communication, therapies utilized, and more. Continued tracking of quality KPIs pre- and post-intervention quantifies the impact of these initiatives. Essentially, quality of care KPIs both identify opportunities for improvement and provide the data backbone for driving and monitoring enhancements.
Optimizing Operations and Finances
In addition to caring for people, healthcare facilities must also operate as efficient and financially-sound businesses. Tracked operational and financial KPIs help healthcare organizations optimize workflows, reduce costs, improve financial health, and strategically allocate resources.
Important operational KPIs may include metrics around employee productivity and labor cost, facility utilization rates, average wait times, care coordination, inventory analysis, claims processing times, and health IT system performance. Meanwhile, key financial KPIs involve profitability, revenue cycle management, outstanding accounts receivable, supply costs, staffing costs, and more. If any of these operational or financial metrics deviate from organizational goals, digging deeper into the KPI data can reveal where strategic or process improvements may be beneficial.
Tracking productivity and labor cost per patient visit, for instance, can identify opportunities to refine staff schedules and reduce overtime. Monitoring facility utilization highlights departments with excess or insufficient capacity to meet care demands, informing plans around repurposing space or acquiring new equipment. Examining outstanding claims and accounts receivable sheds light on potential issues with billing processes and payer relationships. In essence, strategic use of operational and financial KPIs helps healthcare organizations “work smarter” in light of complex industry challenges.
Monitoring Access and Population Health
For health systems, government entities, non-profits, and social service organizations, monitoring KPIs related to community health access and outcomes is key. These population health metrics provide crucial insights around community needs, disparities, utilization patterns, and the impact of organizational outreach efforts over time.
Important access KPIs include metrics related to insurance coverage rates, provider availability by geographic region and specialty, and transportation barriers to care. Outcome KPIs involve community-level data around morbidity, mortality, life expectancy, chronic disease rates, mental health, preventive care adherence, health literacy, and more. Monitoring access and outcome KPIs by demographics can highlight significant disparities between groups related to ethnicity, income, age, and more. For example, tracking preventive screening rates across neighborhoods might reveal certain communities with lower adherence, informing targeted outreach programs.
Along with highlighting community needs, tracking access and population health KPIs over time quantifies the impact of organizational initiatives and partnerships. For instance, analyzing uninsurance rates following health insurance enrollment drives demonstrates effectiveness. When healthcare organizations have a detailed picture of the populations they serve – along with clarity on where health gaps persist – they can continuously refine strategies for improving community health and equity.
Informing Strategy and Benchmarking
In addition to driving operational and quality improvements, tracked KPIs provide healthcare and social assistance organizations with data-backed insight for strategic planning and benchmarking against industry titans. For starters, KPI trends over time (say 5-10 years) help organizations understand demand trajectories and predictive modeling for the future. Leadership can utilize this strategic insight to size and target capital investments, determine where to expand or reduce services, plan new construction or campus needs, quantify projected staffing needs, and more.
Additionally, benchmarking performance and operational metrics against other top organizations informs strategy. If a healthcare system’s hospital discharge process takes 50% longer than benchmark facilities, for example, leadership can strategize process re-designs to improve efficiency. Analyzing facility revenues against a benchmark can also reveal opportunities to optimize reimbursement processes and payer mix. Essentially, strategic use of internally-tracked KPI trends alongside external benchmark data helps healthcare organizations sustainably “future-proof” operations.
Ultimately, reliable, real-time KPI data is invaluable for strategy and planning at both the organizational leadership level as well as department or program levels. When departments track metrics aligned with broader organizational goals, it fosters engagement around fulfilling the shared mission. Furthermore, analyzing KPIs in regular strategy meetings helps keep leadership, departments, and front line staff on the same page.
Driving Communication and Accountability
In large healthcare and social assistance organizations, various departments and functional areas can operate in silos. However, effectively serving patients, clients, and communities requires coordination and alignment across departments. Tracking and communicating KPIs across groups improves transparency and accountability organization-wide.
Shared dashboards with department or facility-level views of key metrics foster awareness of how performance in one area impacts others. For example, emergency department staff can see how rising wait times and boarding rates correspond to decreased inpatient bed availability. This data empowers people to approach interdependent colleagues as partners in solving issues, rather than placing blame.
Additionally, establishing KPI targets and benchmarks for departments/facilities creates constructive accountability. Friendly “competitions” between departments or regional sites to reduce patient no-show rates or improve community health screening metrics incentivizes collaboration and idea sharing on best practices. Especially when successes are celebrated and rewarded, KPI accountability can actually build workplace culture and alignment to organizational strategy.
Driving Health Equity
With mounting awareness around long-standing health disparities, healthcare and social service organizations are focusing efforts on advancing health equity. A key piece of this work involves leveraging KPI data to quantify where disparities exist, inform supportive programs/policies, and track progress over time.
Key metrics tracked by demographics may include quality of care, satisfaction, access, community health outcomes, transportation barriers, technology literacy, cultural competency of staff, and more. Once disparities are quantified through KPI analysis, organizations can design and deploy appropriately-targeted initiatives to address systemic gaps, and then continue monitoring KPIs to evaluate progress.
For example, analyzing patient experience surveys may reveal lower satisfaction among communities of color, signaling issues like cultural barriers, communication disconnects, or staff biases. Interventions could include additional interpreter services, cultural competency training for clinicians, diverse hiring initiatives, or support groups for community members facing health challenges. Tracking patient experience KPIs by demographic before and after these initiatives provides data on their impact. Aligned efforts across aligned efforts across healthcare and social service groups are required to move the needle on big-picture health equity goals.
The Power of KPI Data
Continuously tracking well-designed KPIs provides healthcare and social assistance organizations with invaluable data for strategic decision-making and performance improvement in a complex industry. Both high-level leadership and department heads need access to – and regular meetings centered on – these metrics to inform planning and action.
While the sheer volume of available healthcare data can feel overwhelming, identifying and consistently monitoring key performance indicators helps distill what matters most. With clear KPIs connected to organizational goals, staff at all levels can work in unison toward shared outcomes, helping drive meaningful progress in supporting community health and wellbeing. In essence, sound healthcare and social assistance strategies must be rooted in robust KPI data to inform ongoing advancement.