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SPOTLIGHT ON TECHNOLOGY & TECHNIQUE

Gain insights from your EMR

Data analytics service enables a deeper understanding of your practice metrics.

Ophthalmologists and their teams spend hours every day inputting data into EMRs. Now, Vestrum Health wants to help physicians use all that data to help them understand practice patterns and efficiencies, as well as patient outcomes.

Founded in 2013, data analytics company Vestrum Health obtains data from an EMR, analyzes it and provides reports that can help track and monitor key practice metrics and compare those metrics against regional and national data. Currently available for retinal specialists, Vestrum plans to expand the service to general ophthalmic practices in the next six to 12 months.

THE HASSLE-FREE ACCESS PROCESS

The first step is for Vestrum Health to gain access to your EMR data; Vestrum says it can work with either cloud-based or on-premise EMR systems. On the practice side, some paperwork is required — practices need to complete a business associates agreement and an agreement regarding use of the practice data. Beyond that, “the actual effort is minimal” to get data from the EMR to Vestrum, says Nadeem Ahmad, Vestrum chief operating officer.

Once the paperwork is submitted, Vestrum needs about two weeks, on average, to get a practice up and running with its service.

“Our intensive day-to-day operations didn’t miss a beat during the system’s integration process,” says Alan L. Wagner, MD, FACS, FICS, AME, Wagner Macula & Retina Center in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Va., region. Dr. Wagner’s practice uses the Nextech IntelleChartPRO.

Once in place, Vestrum performs automated, weekly extraction of EMR data. It removes identifiable patient information, organizes the data, analyzes it and provides a monthly “Quick Trends Report” for the physician. The report is e-mailed to the physician and accessed in a PDF file. There is no cost to the practice to use Quick Trends Report (though there is for physician research that is not part of a sponsored clinical trial).

Vestrum also recently added a report on relative value units, which “gives practices an idea of how they’re progressing on the underlying billing information and productivity measures,” according to Tom Brogan, chief executive officer at Vestrum.

The reports compare practice data to regional and national benchmarks, allowing for an understanding of how a practice stacks up against other retinal practices.

Vestrum also provides services to accelerate patient recruitment for clinical trials and to support physician research, including publishing support.

PERSUADE A PAYER

In one notable example of how the Vestrum Health analysis can be used, the Vestrum analysis and comparative data allowed Dr. Wagner to negotiate a more favorable contract with a payer. Dr. Wagner showed the payer a pattern of utilization the payer was in favor of — that is, a less expensive drug. “Perhaps even more importantly,” he says, “it pushed back the specious claims of the payer as to our use profile and our cost profile.”

“It was wonderful to be able to present to them agnostic data that we had not produced,” says Kathie Riebling, CMPE, practice administrator at Wagner Macula & Retina.

In a second example, Peter A. Van Houten, MD, East Carolina Retina Consultants, Greenville, N.C., used the Vestrum Health analysis to prove that his use of a less expensive injectable drug for wet AMD is at least as effective as or, at times, more effective than more expensive medications. He was able to compare his practice patterns to regional and national data. Having this analysis confirmed his clinical impression, says Dr. Van Houten. “I now have statistical facts that say, ‘You’re doing the best you can for your patients.’”

Having the data from his EMR system (in his case, Nextech IntelleChartPRO) truly means he is basing his practice on evidence, he says. “This is the kind of information you can’t get anywhere else. To have an unbiased piece of information that is ongoing, and being able to evaluate how you’re doing for your patients compared to the rest of the world, I think it’s an incredible resource.”

FUTURE PLANS

Currently, Vestrum is at work on a project to allow practices to run queries against the EMR data on their own, in addition to having reports generated by Vestrum. This will allow practices to do their own clinical and business research, Mr. Brogan notes. He explains that what Vestrum essentially provides is knowledge that practices might not otherwise have. “That knowledge,” Mr. Brogan says, “can turn into financial benefits, improved treatments for patients and better operations within the practice.” OM