A How to: Meaningfully using business intelligence

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 - Jeff Maze
Jeff Maze, Director of Business Intelligence, Zotec Partners

Running a radiology practice naturally forces clinicians to divide time between treating their patients and watching after their business. Jeff Maze, director of business intelligence at Zotec Partners (Zotec), believes that radiologists shouldn’t lose sleep worrying about their business operations provided they have the right business intelligence tools. With enhanced business intelligence capabilities, physicians can spend more time on patient care, and be reassured that operations are running smoothly with systems and tools that offer complex decision support and analytic reporting.

Decision support

Decision support and analytics reporting tools can go hand-in-hand with a practice’s outsourced billing solution, especially as more big data is incorporated into business operations for increased business intelligence and predictive analytics. The increasing complexity of data doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If a practice has access to trend and business analysis information in one, meaningful and customizable view, Maze says, it can better focus on what’s relevant to the business.

 “A good business intelligence solution does the heavy lifting for the practice by taking the input data and turning it into wisdom and insight, the kind of actionable information that can be used to make better business decisions,” Maze says. “This can really help to alleviate some of the anxiety that comes with running a business, especially a healthcare business in the current environment with reimbursement cuts, new healthcare legislation and increased pressures for more detailed clinical documentation.”

One such example is CZAR (Comprehesive Zotec Analytics & Reporting), a tool created by Zotec and developed in part by Maze. CZAR takes financial and operational data inputs and creates valuable information to better inform business decisions, and ultimately, allow radiologists to focus on patient care.

Client_cZAR.jpg - client_czar

Data visualization

Data visualization is another strong asset of a well-designed business intelligence system. How data are visualized is critically important. Having the ability to take practice information and portray it in a meaningful way, and with an added focus on usability, allows the user to quickly glean critical information impacting the business.

Single view pages that can be easily customized with drag-and-drop views and monthly reporting are just some of the examples of smart data visualization. For instance, practice administrators and physicians can see charges as a percentage of the practice’s financial goal, denials and average days in accounts receivable in one view, making it easy for them to act on business issues that come up.

Big data projection

Benchmarking is another key piece for practice observation and planning. “We have powerful technology, with millions of charges going through our system. These large amounts of data can help a practice answer questions like, ‘Am I getting paid fairly?’, ‘How do my referral volumes compare to practices of similar size and location?’” A practice can look at its revenues by modality and insurance, or look at referring pattern trends to analyze volumes and identify gaps. “Bringing in more big data to the analysis, we can evaluate state data on plan enrollments as a predictor of utilization and revenue, for example,” Maze adds.

Predictive analytics allows a practice to review a payment run rate analysis to predict income levels and timelines over the short and longer terms, based on the different data inputs. As practices prepare annual budgets, smart analytics technology can take a snapshot of the current year, apply known changes and project estimates for the coming year. For example, radiology groups can use these tools to project imaging reimbursement cuts, extrapolate them over the projected code utilization volumes and offer a picture of the coming year’s revenues. The practice can then use the information to inform resource decisions or financial decisions such as investing in new imaging equipment.

“Good business intelligence systems provide the information needed to neutralize the impact of the changes, and make plans to mitigate the negative effects of any projected downturns,” says Maze.

As radiology practice management includes more big data and predictive analytics, Maze cannot hide his enthusiasm for what business intelligence brings to physicians. “As new comprehensive and robust tools are developed and more predictive analytics are used in healthcare,” he says,