Don’t Fear the Data

“Garbage in, garbage out.” “I know my data and that ain’t it.” “That data is wrong – I am better than that.” Are any of these phrases familiar to you? Have you used them? Physicians have a reputation of dismissing what the data says about their performance… unless, of course, it shows that they are excellent. We need to stop this. And we need to work together sharing data and helping each other. There are 2 very important points that I make in this bit – and they are unequivocally correct.

First, the data is not wrong. The good news is that for most of us, it shows that our performance is acceptable or better. Is the data 100% accurate? Not for everyone, but it has become accurate enough that if a problem has been identified, there IS a problem. If that problem turns out to be due to coding and/or documentation, we need to fix it ASAP so it isn’t publicly available in the incorrect form. I witnessed years ago a cardiologist who had a 63% rate of prescribing statins to coronary artery disease patients. He was shocked, stating that 99% of these patients are taking a statin. The data was scrubbed again, and he was wrong. The point is, we cannot rely on what we “think” the data should show, based on what we “think” our practice patterns are.

Second, the data is published and watched by payers, CMS, even publicly by patients, and you better know if it is accurate or not. We must stop pushing data away, dismissing it as incorrect, hoping it just goes away, treating it as not for anyone to see. This is important enough that I will say it again: if the data is incorrect due to a coding and/or a documentation problem, you need to fix it, which requires knowing about it – and we can help you. If the public sees data that is unfavorable, and all we need to do is change documentation, not our practice of medicine, don’t we want to know that and correct it so that we get credit for patients receiving good care?dont-fear-the-data