To inform critical decision-making, healthcare organizations analyze data and review the latest findings in applied research. In particular, they need to stay current on the implementation and outcomes of health and social services, policy, and program options for promoting equitable access, quality, and outcomes. Organizations may struggle with the scientific approach and impartiality needed to investigate and answer how their policies, programs, and operational performance impact, connect with, and are experienced by people, communities, and systems, and what data-informed opportunities for improvement exist in their practices.
THE CHALLENGE: Earlier and Better Treatment for Infectious Diseases
More than 3.2 million people visit hospital emergency rooms each year with infectious and parasitic diseases as the primary diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1 The CDC also found that there are more than 20 million sexually transmitted infections reported in the United States each year. Many infectious diseases, like Hepatitis C, HIV, and tuberculosis, are chronic and life-changing conditions but are very treatable with the proper screening, diagnosis, and treatment. Healthcare organizations and public agencies need better models for screening patients with infectious diseases to get them earlier and better treatment.
For over eight years, our Applied Research and Data Analysis team has supported a state’s department of public health through the analysis of all-payer claims databases. We used community-based, participatory-informed, person-centered, and equity-sensitive research in collaboration with a continuum of stakeholders. Then, our researchers interpret the results to provide meaningful findings, helping our clients close information gaps and enabling them to make evidence-informed decisions.
Our work has allowed this department of public health to assess the responsiveness of the state’s health system to national prevention, screening, and treatment guidelines for infectious diseases, understand screening and treatment patterns, and inform public health investments for stimulating and supporting practice changes.
Using the information gleaned, the department can strategically shift priorities to improve outcomes, translate ideas into real-world practices, remove barriers to care access, and identify continuous quality improvement strategies so that they may increase health care and health equity. As an example, we identified better models for screening at-risk individuals with Hepatitis C, securing earlier and better treatment; put simply, our findings ensured the right people received the right treatment at the right time.