Are you losing your data to a black hole?

Dawna Schnur

How to apply analytics to fuel your department’s performance forward

Data is thrilling, isn’t it? You open up a brand new report, skim the results, compare it to the benchmarks, and then … what? If you’re like most people, you close the report and move on. You’re satisfied with the results, so there’s nothing more to do.

Your data could be so much more of an adventure.

Many people think, “We don’t have time; we’re so busy” or they pass off their data to the process improvement department and call it a day. But your process improvement department has multiple projects from multiple areas of the hospital, which means your data – that thrilling, precious resource – falls into a black hole.

So how do you avoid the black hole? How can you turn data into rocket fuel that propels you to great new places in terms of your department’s performance?

Identify the issues. The first step is figuring out what problems you want to solve. Without that, data’s just data and it’s not meaningful – it’s just noise. Once you know your problems, you can create solutions to address them.

Define the data. Finding the right data helps you isolate the problem so you can fix it. This is where data starts becoming meaningful and clear so you can act on it.

Dig in. Explore the data to see what it’s telling you. Pinpoint the data that’s actionable so you can make progress on the issues.

Focus on the fix. Here’s where you don’t close out the data or pass it off to process improvement. Use the data to prioritize your findings, develop a plan and create visually appealing dashboards that show you the problem and present a new process that helps you resolve that issue. It helps to do it in two phases:

First, grab the low-hanging fruit. Some improvements can be really simple, which makes it easier to move ahead and enact change. Starting with a simple fix is a great way to start an analytics program. It helps get people on board and shows results quickly – which motivates everyone to keep it up.

Next, tackle the hard stuff. Sometimes it’s challenging to implement change because you have to convince people to change their behavior and create new habits. I often hear, “It’s just the way it is” about these kinds of issues. But the fixes that require the greatest change often deliver the greatest benefits in terms of patient care, throughput, ROI and staff satisfaction. So it’s worth looking at those “just the way it is” situations with a clear eye to achieve serious results.

Constant contact. Working with an analytics partner helps keep you focused on your goals. They’ll regularly check in with you to make sure you’re using your analytics solution properly, acting on the data, creating new processes and enacting change to move forward – far away from the black hole of data.



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