UDS “Season” 2016 is in the books!
I hope this year’s filing was easier than last year’s and you felt more confident than ever about your submission. As I watched all the activity in our office over the past 75 days, I was once again awed by the sheer volume of work competed. However, I noticed something felt a bit different from my previous five UDS Seasons at Azara.
For us, a company that specializes in data reporting and analytics (including UDS), this period is our busiest time of year. In years past, the amount of questions and support requests increased almost two-fold over normal volume. Tempers – of both our clients and our staff – sometimes flared, and we dedicated extra staff and hours to ensure all our clients were served in a timely manner.
This year, I didn’t sense the emotion, the panic, the last minute madness, or the caffeine-fueled craziness. Plenty of clients needed assistance, had questions or needed something fixed, but something felt distinctly different. As I wondered why, I did what anyone who runs a reporting and analytics company might do: I sought answers in the data. I looked closely at our support logs and ticket volumes. I discovered that our ticket volume increased just 10 percent over the same period last year – in spite of a 25 percent growth in live clients. Anecdotally, the HRSA quality incentives that require submission on the full patient population caused the largest share of clients in our history to use DRVS for UDS reporting.
These numbers tell me that we (Azara and our clients) are making progress. Our clients are getting a better handle on their data, and they are doing a better job of incorporating data into their everyday health center operations. I like to think that clients are starting to monitor UDS clinical quality year round, or are at least not waiting until the following January to start the process.
I often tell Azara clients and prospects: “Those who use their data the most have the best data.” I feel UDS Season is akin to the annual achievement test of this mantra; while I can’t state empirically that this year’s achievement scores rose for all our clients, I’m confident the average increased substantially.
Clients that use their DRVS data (or any reporting tool) as part of their daily routine are typically well prepared to report UDS, and they find minimal discrepancies with their numbers and performance. This isn’t surprising, because they’ve been viewing data and reports regularly throughout the year – some reports daily. By doing so, these clients can identify data discrepancies early – whether process or product related – and can make fixes well in advance of UDS submission deadlines. In fact, clients that use Azara’s Patient Visit Planning (PVP) report as part of their care planning and delivery are in a much better position than those who don’t, because the DRVS data is part of their daily workflow.
Data quality and fidelity requires ongoing vigilance. All care providers must properly and promptly document the care they deliver so that they can receive proper credit for their work. Just as a sales person keeps score by tallying up total sales, providers who regularly monitor their performance know where they stand long before year’s end. They also know – early in the year – if adjustments in processes are needed to improve the full year’s outcomes.
Congratulations to those of you who finished your UDS submission with less effort, pain and angst than last year. Take comfort in knowing your year-round hard work has paid off. And, for everyone, it’s not too early to think about next year’s UDS. Look at your data early and often. Make it part of your workflow. Ask your network, PCA or Azara for help.
Remember: “Those that use their data the most, have the best data.”
Jeff Brandes is president and CEO of Azara Healthcare.