The healthcare industry produces a staggering amount of data. Hospitals alone churn out 50 petabytes of data per year, ranging from clinical notes and laboratory tests to medical images, sensor readings, genomics, and operational and financial data. There are also disease registries that encompass large amounts of data in their role as a tool for tracking the clinical care and outcomes of a defined patient population. Also, clinical registries record information about patients’ health status and the care they receive over time.
Trauma registries are designed to provide information that can be used to improve the the quality of care and “allow unprecedented opportunities for the evaluation of patient outcomes and inter-hospital comparisons.” They provide impactful aid to hospitals in pinpointing what is – and isn’t – working in their trauma center or emergency department and serve as a deeper source of information on the health of injury victims than administrative databases.
However, it’s crucial to recognize that creating and maintaining trauma registries involves a significant investment of money, time, and effort and that advancing efforts to deliver evidence-based care and to meet clinical performance measures at the highest level of specificity requires a high level of expertise.
Digging for crucial trauma data
Capturing patient data in trauma registries and putting them into action “in trauma center performance improvement and patient safety programs have been standard practice for decades.” These registries at both the national and state level have multiple uses, including:
- injury surveillance
- clinical research
- patient outcomes benchmarking
- design inspiration for targeted quality improvement initiatives and planning resource allocation
They also pertain to understanding pre-hospital care and transport priorities as well as tracking changes in trauma system performance over time.
Not all of the approximately 567 level I and level II trauma centers in the United States that utilize trauma registries capture the same types of data. Many focus on information pertaining to pre-hospital care, in-hospital interventions, injury classification, physiological response (e.g., vital signs, laboratory data), complications, and patient outcomes. As the popularity of registries rise, so do the complexities of the data required.
Data in trauma registries are crucial for the informed decision-making by health systems and hospitals across the continuum of trauma care. They can be used to inform trauma research, facilitate research and performance improvement, and drive the development of new best practices.
Although trauma registries offer multiple advantages, there can be numerous challenges to implementing and operating them. A few of the most common obstacles to trauma registry implementation include staffing, funding, and stakeholder engagement. Other barriers include:
- an inconsistent documentation and archiving system
- a lack of technology and other infrastructure
- inaccurate data entry/analysis
- failure to translate or disseminate findings
Decreasing death and disability rates
The use of trauma registries has aided in decreasing the death and disability rates from injuries. The crucial data they provide can “guide injury prevention strategies, inform resource allocation, and support advocacy and policy,” all of which has been shown to reduce trauma-related mortality in various settings. In addition, trauma registries help hospitals to obtain solid evidence to support hospital’s performance and quality improvement efforts by:
- establishing a performance baseline
- identifying utilization rates and resources
- fairly allocating scarce resources
- identifying needs for continuous quality improvement
- assessing needs for evidence-based clinical protocols and training
- influencing injury prevention and control policies
- emphasizing on the importance of a two-way referral system
- fostering research and publication of results
According to the American College of Surgeons (ACS), hospitals that participate in its Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP) realize additional advantages by setting standards that define the structures and processes of care, measuring patient outcomes through risk-adjusted benchmarking, promoting best practices, and adhering to performance improvement principles.
Along with other types of registries, trauma registries are now an integral part of a hospital’s ability to provide the outcomes data needed to negotiate with payers and protect revenue. They also provide compliant reporting that impacts state and federal allocation of grant funding.
Understanding the advantages of quality abstraction and data management
A well-designed trauma registry solution can help hospitals and health systems achieve reduced variability because case completeness, abstraction experience, and data accuracy are no longer concerns. Healthcare providers also benefit from improved efficiencies, as lean processes allow each team to be staffed seamlessly.
Finding trauma registry professionals who understand how your system utilizes raw data to generate risk scores and other metrics can be challenging though. As the number and types of registries continue to grow, the talent pool of qualified registrars is rapidly shrinking. This is why it’s crucial to have a partner that can deliver registry experts and help your organization ensure timely abstraction, organization, and reporting of data to meet your organizational goals and quality initiatives.
In a recent survey of trauma registry stewards and researchers in low and middle-income countries, respondents shared what piece of advice they would give to someone thinking about developing a trauma registry in a resource-constrained setting. The top answer was to have a trauma registry champion and was followed up with procuring expert trauma registry staff.
Such experts play a vital role in providing trauma registry data for facility funding and provide the trauma data necessary to support daily functions of the trauma program, accreditation/verification, performance improvement and research activities.
The bottom line
Trauma registries advance efforts in evidence-based care at the highest level of specificity. They also improve data backlogs, ensure timely reporting and accreditation compliance, and increase confidence with data that are accurately and consistently captured.
Implementing and maintaining trauma registries certainly have challenges, but having quality registry abstraction and data management at the highest level of specificity can enable your organization to meet clinical performance measures, reduce variability, and improve efficiencies.
Tackling those challenges begins with partnering with an organization that can dedicate its time and resources into delivering a dedicated team of registry experts. Those professionals are highly qualified and experienced in guiding organizations through evidence-based interventions that enable better patient care.
Team Harmony is primed to be your organization’s registry partner. Kick-start your journey with us today.
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