Guest Blog - How Strata Decision Technology is using the GMDN to improve cost analysis speed for healthcare providers

4 March 2024

Guest Blog

How Strata Decision Technology is using the GMDN to improve cost analysis speed for healthcare providers

Co-authored by Ron Iller, Senior Director of Product Management at Strata Decision Technology and Tim Cleary, Consulting Manager and Solution Architect, Data & Intelligence Services at Strata Decision Technology


Here at Strata, we’re empowering organizations to fuel their missions. We support hospitals, health systems, and other healthcare providers with a portfolio of software and data solutions that help them develop achievable budgets and effective strategic plans. We enable them to leverage data to discover market opportunities and new areas for growth, and gain insights into patient care delivery and cost and revenue drivers for healthcare organizations across the United States.

Helping organizations sort through, categorize, and analyze the immense amounts of valuable data they generate daily to drive sustainable improvements is key. The Global Medical Device Nomenclature (GMDN) Agency is our valued partner in helping these critical organizations group and classify complex medical device data so that they can quickly conduct analyses that enhance patient care.


The struggle to manage mounds of data

Healthcare leaders are continually looking for ways to enhance their organizations’ financial, operational, and quality outcomes, which ultimately come down to how they deliver care. This often requires deep data analysis down to the specific items that went into the care delivery for a cohort of patients. 

Doing any type of analysis at this service/charge item level of data is not for the faint of heart. Charge description/service item masters are unique to every organization in the U.S., with custom descriptions, quantities, and costs for each hospital/health system. The level of complexity grows exponentially when comparing data across organizations, because each organization must have standardized nomenclature at the most detailed level.  

In lieu of a better option, customers and data analysts are forced to group detailed charge items by some higher level, like a Universal Billing (UB) or CPT-4 code. UB or CPT-4 codes are limited help, however, when one considers the volumes of types of devices, vendors, etc., that could be included within a single code. As a result, analysts must create logical groupings of these detailed charge items on an ad hoc basis for each process improvement project, which requires additional time and introduces potential inconsistencies for any project that requires detailed data analysis.


Facilitating faster analysis for timely improvements


To create a more frictionless process for our customers and accelerate their use of the valuable data they have, we’ve launched a project to provide a logical grouping structure around the higher cost/impact areas of the hospital charge master. As we focused on the medical device area, we realized that we needed a partner that understood the data and how it needed to be grouped and classified. The GMDN Database provided the exact level of detail we needed.

For example, consider an analyst examining cost variation within a cohort of patients receiving Percutaneous Transcatheter Placement of a Drug Eluting Stent on an outpatient basis. The analyst may have to look at a wide array of data that includes factors such as length of stay, co-morbidities, severity, etc., but will always need a detailed analysis of the actual stents placed in patients. 

This type of analysis may require looking at 50+ unique charge items to drill down to the appropriate granular level of detail. The analyst would need to categorize the data, identify the items of interest, then do the analysis to determine the real drivers of the cost variance. The entire process could take a day or longer to establish a clear and consistent set of data to analyze.

By adding the GMDN Categories, the analyst can easily use the GMDN hierarchy to see the 50+ items grouped into Catheterization/Cannulation/Fluid Path Devices, Radiological Devices, Tissue Reparation Devices, etc. She could drill in further to see which were Catheters or Endovascular recanalization devices and narrow it down to a very small set of charge codes that clearly show the utilization and cost differences behind the variance. The GMDN Database enables this process to occur naturally in a matter of minutes rather than days, with a well-crafted report that allows users to drill through the GMDN hierarchy interactively and get to the root cause of which devices are driving the variances.

Thanks to the standardization of detail that the GMDN supports, Strata is already looking forward to the next phase of our project. As more Strata customers take advantage of this level of medical device analysis capability, they’ll have consistent data on utilization and costs at the device level. We intend to use this consistency to provide external benchmarks that will further assist our customers by enabling them to analyze how utilization and costs of specific devices at their facilities compare to other organizations.


You can find out more about Strata Decision Technology and their work at their website

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