In the past, a hospital was a building where people went for treatment when injured or sick. Today’s hospitals and health systems encompass much more. They may have multiple facilities, some with specific specializations and areas of coverage.
For example, let’s look at Inova Health, the health system recently ranked #1 in the Washington, D.C. region by U.S. News and World Reports. Inova is comprised of five hospitals with more than 16,000 employees. In addition, they have physical therapy centers, urgent care centers, nursing and rehabilitation centers, and other facilities and locations that specialize in particular services and kinds of care.
When determining whether to place an oncology center, or an Urgent Care Center in a region, health systems have to take many different factors into consideration. According to Christine Durr of Pitney Bowes Software, “the expansion of a health system is not something to be taken lightly…these organizations need to think about where they should grow, what kind of integrated care will be needed to support them and if the new facility will ultimately be a cost effective project.”
This is where new technologies, such as big data, data analytics and location intelligence can play a role.
Hospital systems have a tremendous amount of data already available to them about their patients, the overall health of a region, patient behavior and a region’s payer mix. All of this data can be analyzed, and the resulting analysis be used to drive decisions regarding expansion and the creation of new facilities.
For the sake of example, let’s say a neighborhood in a region is identified to be a cancer cluster, or a geographic area where an unexpectedly large number of related cancer cases have been diagnosed. In this situation, the regional health system can look at the large number of cancer cases in the region, the payer mix for residents in a region and the behavior of patients, such as the distance people will travel, on average, for treatment.
Analyzing the data, they can determine if it would be economically feasible and to the community’s benefit to open an oncology center in the area. “Data is enabling health systems and hospitals to look at all the demographics, look at traffic and behavior patterns and make growth decisions that make sense both for the community, and for the facility’s top and bottom line,” said Durr.
But where exactly should that new center be located? This is where location intelligence solutions come into play. The health system can take the data resulting from the analysis and use location intelligence solutions to project that it onto a map.
Additional details can be displayed on the map as well, such as local pharmacy, in-network care team, propensity to seek treatment, and ancillary services all of which can drive business but more importantly help patients manage their care more effectively within their community. With all of this data analyzed and visually represented, the hospital system can then more easily identify locations and make more intelligent decisions for expansion.
With an estimated 32 million individuals about to join the ranks of the insured due to healthcare reform, hospitals and health systems may need to expand soon just to meet the demand. Big data, data analytics and location intelligence solutions can help health systems and hospitals make smarter decisions about expansion, staffing and location. This ensures that all expansion decisions are informed decisions.