Want to take a flight on a jetliner piloted on intuition alone?

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How would you like to take your next trip on a jet flown by a crew using their intuition alone, no instrumentation? Or can you imagine a big fashion retailer ordering their merchandise based only on intuition, with no review of historical sales, seasonality, or current trends? No? Me neither. Yet many healthcare leaders make important decisions for their organization without the tools or resources to guide them…even in support of an operating room.

Such was the case with a healthcare executive who shared with about 2000 healthcare providers, at our recent Centricity LIVE conference, that “We depended on our intuitive skills to make decisions, and we didn’t always get it right”. And lest you think she is alone in that approach, I witnessed many in the audience nodding in agreement. As the leader of perioperative services with an inventory budget of $21 million, she explained the difficulty of managing costs without the tools to identify and prioritize improvement opportunities. And she worried out loud if an intuition-based approach might potentially impact patient care or satisfaction. To bring the matter home, she asked the audience to “Imagine if your loved one came in for a procedure, was put to sleep, and then the hospital realized they didn’t have the right inventory for the procedure.” This is not a situation anyone would ever want to experience.

Lesson 1: Get the right data amid the chaos, but banish data overload for sanity and success

Petabytes of data are exponentially piling up around us, yet they don’t necessarily help providers manage healthcare delivery more efficiently and effectively. It’s likely the information is available, but where and in what form? In the case above, the hospital executive described a “huge chasm of information needed to make decisions”. In a hospital that performs 20,000 procedures annually, making important decisions is a regular requirement of her role. Yet, she reported that she had “no true understanding of procedure costs or the cost variance between surgeons”.

Clearly, too much data is often just as bad as not having any. Success for this healthcare executive was made possible, in large part, by getting the right data at the right time presented in easy-to-digest dashboards, designed for action and outcomes.

Lesson 2: Make great data-driven decisions and be a rock star

Armed with the right information, this healthcare leader spoke about the insights she discovered that guided her decisions on such things as how much inventory to have on hand for surgical procedures, how to reduce the cost variance between surgeons without impacting patient care, what vendors to use, and how much staff to allocate to certain areas,

As she shared the benefits she had achieved so far and those she anticipated, she inspired the audience to address their own challenges, whether making decisions for their operating rooms, labor & delivery unit, radiology department, or elsewhere.

It was no surprise that conference attendees crowded around her wanting to know more about how she had used information and a solid process to achieve performance improvement with meaningful results and everyone’s support (including the surgeons). The crowd soaked in every word she said as if she was a rock star.

Lesson 3: It takes a team to drive sustainable change

We know a rock star or an airline pilot doesn’t work alone, and as this executive humbly stated, neither did she. She credited her hospital colleagues who helped implement the needed changes. She talked about the support of her administrative leadership and the surgeons. And she spoke of our analytics services team at GE Healthcare who helped implement Centricity Insights, the analytics solution that helped her identify, prioritize, execute, and maintain financial performance opportunities with a repeatable data-driven process.

With her leadership, the hospital is achieving impressive results. She not only has a thorough grasp on her costs enabling her to reduce the organization’s procedure costs and variance between surgeons, but she is improving their bottom line in additional ways, and enhancing staff efficiency and surgeon satisfaction. With the materials required for surgeries available when needed and documented when used, the staff will no longer need to waste time looking for inventory, discarding expired inventory, or coming back after surgery to update the inventory count and capture charges. And patients’ surgeries can proceed as scheduled.

Lesson 4: The right information and process can be addictive

No longer flying blind, she shared how she now loves to start her day by checking on the latest information in her analytics dashboards and making course corrections. Why? Because it feels great to make decisions based on the right information and see the impact.

Are you managing by intuition alone? Are you feeling less than confident in the decisions you’re making? Don’t be afraid to take the next step to ensure you have the right information you need to drive sound decisions and the ability to execute changes to drive greater outcomes. We’re here to help.


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