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Data Analytics

Incorporating Demographic Data in Healthcare Forecasting

It’s no secret that the U.S. population is aging – and that elderly people on average need more care than young adults. The problem is not only quantifying how much care they will need today, but also understanding how much demand there will be in five years and beyond.

Forecasting is vital for healthcare organizations and incorporating robust demographic data into your analyses is key to understanding the health needs in your region. Comprehensive forecasting models not only have the potential to give you detailed information on your community, but also the projected future health status based on current conditions, demographic trends and other social determinants of health.

Demographic Data in Action: Chronic Conditions

According to the CDC, 6 in 10 adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease, and 4 in 10 adults have two or more. Diabetes, cancer and heart disease are but a few of the chronic conditions that drive our nation’s health costs and aging populations have a higher tendency to have or develop chronic conditions.

National demographics can be useful but understanding your community’s unique demographics is key to understanding the landscape of chronic conditions in your market. Forecasting chronic condition growth not only allows you to understand disease prevalence, but it also allows you to understand which chronic diseases are projected to grow the most over time. This gives you time to prepare for the upcoming demand by growing specific service lines, hiring more physicians and developing preventative care initiatives for the populations most at risk.

 To help understand the impact of chronic conditions on your market, Intellimed has developed a Chronic Conditions Forecasting Tool that projects current-year and five-year patient demand by disease category and location. With it you can visualize which zip codes have a higher disease prevalence and determine what proportion of your population are in danger of developing a chronic condition. Reach out to us here to learn more about how you can easily forecast chronic conditions.

Demographic Data in Action: Demand Forecasting

Demographic changes don’t only inform demand tied to chronic conditions. For example, birthrate data informs pediatric volume and age group data determines how many women of child-bearing age are impacting obstetrics volumes.

While the US Census Bureau has not yet released the Demographics and Housing Characteristics file which drives demographic projections, there are some early indicators from the 2020 census that show significant populations that will impact healthcare. For example, the U.S. fertility rate dropped to 1.64 in 2020, which is below the replacement rate and the lowest level ever recorded. The implications of this are far-reaching and will cause a measurable decline in the number of patients for many service lines – resulting in increasing competition. However, like all data, the better information you have for your market, the better positioned you will be to care for those patients. Total fertility rate is different depending on the state or city you’re in – and understanding your specific demographic situation will illustrate demand for these services better than national statistics will.

Demand forecasting not only prepares you for projected downturns in some service lines, but also identify growth opportunities. Using Intellimed’s Demand Forecasting tool, providers can use demand projections to decide where to open new locations, determine healthcare device usage, and identify growing service lines to target for development.

Getting your hands on Demographic Data

Demographic data is key to understanding the population you serve. So, where can you get it? The most popular sources of Demographic data are the most recent U.S. Census and ESRI data, but each offers different capabilities and uses.

The case for Census Data

Conducted every 10 years, the U.S. Census contains some of the best data out there to understand the health of the nation. The census not only determines the number of seats by state in the House of Representatives, but it is also used to distribute billions of dollars in federal funding.

Medicaid is the largest governmental program that uses census data to plan funding, but other vital programs like Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the National School Lunch Program and Medicare also use the data.

Studies across the U.S. also use the Census as the basis for their analysis, including National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), HHS’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, and more. The census is used to determine and measure patient access to care, future demand and more – especially when used in conjunction with other data.

That’s why Intellimed has partnered with Esri, the world leader in geographic information systems and data, to unlock powerful insights about people and places in a specific area through leveraging Intellimed’s forecasting tools.

The case for Esri Data

Esri offers current and five-year projections including forecasts on population, age, sex, household, income, and education growth or decline. They incorporate not only U.S. Census data, but also pull from a variety of different data sources that give users a rich tapestry of data to pull from.

Esri uses the ACS, which is one of the most detailed surveys when it comes to data on racial and ethnic groups, and is a great tool to help ensure equitable access to care. They help provide context and data when it comes to social determinants of health, especially when paired with the Current Population Survey (CPS). It also provides local healthcare coverage estimates through the Small Area Health Insurance Estimates.

ESRI processes and utilizes:

  • U.S. Census Data – They provide annual updates and 5-year projections of population, age, sex, race, household income and more partly derived from Census Data. They also provide data for geographies not supplied by the Census Bureau including ZIP codes, DMAs, rings, drive times, and hand-drawn areas.
  • American Community Survey (ACS) Data – Shows households by social security or retirement income, poverty status, commute, spoken languages, ancestry and more. Esri also provides data for areas not supplied by Census Bureau like Zip Codes, hand-drawn areas and more. This information is updated annually.
  • Tapestry Segmentation – Divides U.S. residential areas into 67 segments based on their socioeconomic and demographic composition. Updated annually.
  • Retail MarketPlace – Compares consumer spending and retail sales by industry; calculates the supply and demand gap.
  • Business Locations – A list of businesses licensed from Infogroup, which contains data for over 13 million U.S. businesses. It includes location and business name, classification, employee numbers and sales. The data from SafeGraph includes information on 5 million U.S. businesses. This is updated quarterly.
  • Business Summary – A list of businesses sources from Infogroup that includes a total number of businesses, employees, and sales for an area. Updated annually.
  • Consumer Spending –Data is reported by product or service and includes total expenditures, average spending per household, and a Spending Potential Index (SPI) for current year and five-year projection. It also incorporates Consumer Expenditure Surveys (CEX) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is updated annually.
  • Market Potential – Includes data representing goods, services, attitudes, and activities and is collected from the GfK MRI consumer survey. It provides consumer numbers and a Market Potential Index (MPI). It is updated annually.
  • Traffic Counts – Comes from TrafficMetrix, it is an extensive dataset used for mathematical model, trade analysis, and more. It is updated quarterly.
  • Crime Indexes – Incorporates data from the Applied Geographic Solutions (AGS) CrimeRisk Database. It includes details for a range of crimes and can be broken down to the block group level. It is updated semiannually.

    Combining Population and Healthcare Datasets

    Population data is vital to understanding the patients in your market, but it’s not the only source of data you need to make informed decisions. Claims data, inpatient discharge data, outpatient data, and other information like skilled nursing data is necessary to get the detailed insights healthcare organizations need. However, it’s difficult for many hospitals to process, maintain and combine all this information in one place for easy use and implementation.

    That’s where Intellimed comes in. We process and standardize national and state-specific datasets and package them together in easy-to-use ad-hoc query and data visualization tools. Designed with accessibility in mind, Intellimed’s applications are designed to quickly get you the answers you need.

    With demographic data, using a variety of data sources is stronger than using census data alone. That’s why Intellimed’s tools incorporate Esri data, which includes census data, and other healthcare data. Combining health insurance claims data with Esri population demographics data, Intellimed’s Chronic Conditions Forecasting tool allows you to understand emerging and chronic conditions that may impact your community by age group, gender and payor group. Interactive maps show which areas by zip code are most at-risk, and which patients are in danger of developing a chronic condition.

    Intellimed’s Discharge Forecast tool pulls from inpatient and outpatient discharge data, providing unique parity through our proprietary grouper, to show encounter growth for services. And, with Intellimed’s modeling capabilities, we can provide users with insights into states where discharge data isn’t publicly available or doesn’t exist.

    All of Intellimed’s forecasting tools allow you to see current-year and projected five-year demand by service line and MS-DRG. Reach out to us today to get a demographic snapshot of your market and learn more about how you can use Esri data in your strategic planning efforts by clicking here.

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