17,000 Hours of Hospital Staff Time Saved Per Year with Credentials Dataset
Last year, Washington State published a single dataset — healthcare provider credential data — that gave hospitals and other health organizations throughout the state the ability to perform a vital task more efficiently. The dataset is API-enabled and can be downloaded, sorted, and filtered. Sharing provider data in this open format allows major hospitals and health-focused organizations in Washington State to save as much as 17,000 hours of staff time each year, or the equivalent of eight full-time employees.
Sharing provider data in this open format allows major hospitals and health-focused organizations in Washington State to save as much as 17,000 hours of staff time each year, or the equivalent of eight full-time employees.
How can publishing one dataset in an open format make such a tremendous difference?
From Manual to Automated: The Impact of Publishing Credential Data
Imagine having the responsibility, as a hospital administrator, of verifying the licenses of all newly hired healthcare providers, as well as managing annual or occasional audits of the license status of your entire staff. Ensuring this information is accurate and up-to-date has a major impact on both patient health and the reputation of your facility. But, until recently, administrators at healthcare organizations were stuck with a manual and time-consuming license verification process. Provider details could only be looked up one name at a time on the Department of Health (DOH) Provider Credential Search site.
Being resourceful, healthcare organizations sought workarounds. Since the data wasn’t available in a downloadable format, organizations with high license verification needs reached out to third-party vendors to create web crawl applications capable of automatically pulling credential data. This had unintended and negative consequences, however. In fall 2015, the Provider Credential Search site began experiencing critical performance issues due to the data mining from third-party vendors.
Having the site go dark wasn’t an option for the DOH. Data on providers has been publicly available since 2001, and patient safety depends on its continued availability. Instead, the DOH came up with a two-pronged approach. First, they put a pause to the data mining that rendered the site unusable. This meant low-volume users (the public, most likely, or smaller healthcare organizations) could still access the data. Next, DOH added the full dataset to the state’s open data portal.
As of January 2016, the dataset of the state’s more than 1.5 million plus providers is live on Data.WA.gov. The data, which comes directly from the Department of Health, is updated daily. It includes ample information about provider credentials. Users can see a provider’s credential type and number, along with when it was first and last issued, the current status, and more.
Already, the provider data is one of the site’s most popular datasets. Since February 2016, it’s also been the most accessed dataset on the portal.
Already, the provider data is one of the site’s most popular datasets. Since February 2016, it’s also been the most accessed dataset on the portal. And, just as importantly, the public-facing Provider Credential Search site, which is used by ordinary residents, checking up on their healthcare providers, is stable again.
Increased Efficiency Adds Up to Big Savings
Inefficient processes aren’t just irritating and slow — using staff time to perform a task better suited to technology can be a big expense. How big? Trung Phan, is the President and CEO of Applied Statistics & Management, Inc. Its flagship product, MD-Staff, “is a feature rich enterprise level credentialing system” to “streamline and automate the credentialing process.”
Only access to the raw credentialing data, however, can allow MD-Staff to function. Phan wrote the DOH a thank-you note after the dataset was published. “On behalf of MD-Staff and our member hospitals in the State of Washington, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation for your timely response to our request for data,” says Phan.
“By automating the verification process using the license file, hospitals will save 17,000 hours of staff time.” —Trung Phan, President and CEO of Applied Statistics & Management, Inc.
Phan’s organization benefited, but so too did hospitals. “Last year, our users performed 68,000 Washington license verifications. By automating the verification process using the license file, hospitals will save 17,000 hours of staff time,” Phan says.
Consider what that 17,000 hours means to hospitals’ bottom lines. According to Payscale.com, a data entry clerk in Seattle earns $13.00/hour on average. Hospitals could be saving as much as $221,000 as a result of being able to use tools and applications to verify licenses, rather than requiring staffers to manually copy and paste names into an online form.
What’s Next for Washington’s DOH?
Along with saving hospital staff time, and allowing third-party companies to work more effectively, publishing the data in an open, API-enabled format has reduced the burden on the original site, Provider Credential Search. Traffic to this vital public resource has dropped almost 50 percent since the data was added to the portal. Washington’s DOH is now looking for other useful datasets to publish on the state’s portal.
Are you interested in seeing how open data can help businesses in your state, city, or county operate more efficiency? Get in touch with Socrata to have a conversation about opportunities.