Authored By: The Center for Case Management, January/February 2022
As hospitals look towards solutions for improved patient care, The Center for Case Management is utilizing their data system—CARTBoard™—to develop outcomes and help close the gap on health inequities.
CARTBoard™ is an advanced healthcare data system that provides efficiency scores for hospitals. Jeff Echternach, Technology Officer for The Center for Case Management, said he and the CFCM team developed the system with the priority of improvement of patient outcomes.
Echternach believes that with proper insights and data can, hospitals can identify and bridge the gaps within their health organizations—leading to positive change.
“CARTBoard™ provides health systems with the analytics that point them in the direction they want to go in,” Echternach stated. “The system allows health systems to streamline data and find ways to help their hospitals standardize to the same methodology—resulting in assessing patients properly and providing the best care.”
With the proper process and technology involved, patient identification can be streamlined to ensure potential risk factors are assessed and that patients are receiving resources and information relevant to their case—beginning with screening questions.
Patient responses to screening questions can help identify if a more in-depth questionnaire is needed. After responses are added to medical records, they can then be delivered to the appropriate screening individual (social worker, case manager) for further assessment.
For example, Patient A (facing homelessness) and Patient B (stable home-life) visit the same healthcare provider for flu-like symptoms. If the healthcare provider approaches Patient A and Patient B in the same manner but is unaware of Patient A’s situation, the healthcare provider might miss the opportunity to provide Patient A with adequate care.
Screening tools can start with simple, social determinants of health scale featuring categories that determine whether a patient is safe and stable—leading to counsel and resources that will help them. The more information and details obtained, the better chance of creating a proper discharge plan.
“A hospital discharging a patient that has some limited mobility and a bad heart failure diagnosis, and during screening, says there is a financial concern—the provider should try to address those gaps,” said Jeff Echternach.
After measuring the social determinants scale, results can then be converted into an aggregated score that helps to communicate any risks involved. Echternach said that offering solutions—such as charity medication—could help patients experiencing struggles such as financial issues. However, the best way to know if a patient needs help is by asking the right screening questions. Outside of financial concerns, patients’ needs can range from transportation to housing resources.
According to Echternach, taking the risk scores and stratifying higher scores and lower scores can help determine outcomes for populations. For example, looking at patients that have a very high-risk score in homelessness, a health system might want to know how those patients rank on their acute hospital length of stay. Hospitals could also look at how that score might compare to a population that has a lower score.
Taking it a step further, risk score data enables health systems to see how their various hospital populations compare, discovering what they can do differently to improve outcomes and patient care at other hospitals.
As hospitals face internal challenges, such as staffing shortages, workflow systems can equip case management and social work departments with the best tools for responding and scoring effectively.