There is no shortage of data available in modern life today. The same is mostly true for hospitals. However, not all data is created equal. Simply collecting data from patients, clinicians, and staff will not improve performance or optimize your workforce. The insights you glean from the data and how you apply them make the difference.
While clinicians predict that technological literacy is growing in importance, most report feeling overwhelmed by the amount. They fear health technology will take up more time instead of saving it.
By using a few key strategies, it’s possible to make the mountain of data workable so hospitals and clinicians can derive insights that deliver on promises of efficiency, improved value, and better solutions.
1. Train Data Consumers in Technological Literacy
The first step to making data work for your organization is to help “consumers” (i.e., clinicians, nurses, hospital leadership) understand the data they receive. Offer continuing education on the latest technology developments, tools, and resources, including courses on applying data to practice. It’s also imperative to be transparent in sharing your data sources and collection means, as the proper context helps to frame the information and make it relevant to consumers.
2. Process Data to Provide Insights
Data insights and analysis are only as good as the quality of information they yield. That’s why, before processing, structuring data to a standardized format and cleaning it to eliminate unnecessary, incorrect, or corrupted data points is essential.
Rapid-cycle feedback is the most valuable form of data processing. It allows people to see trends and patterns quickly, making it more reasonable to connect the information with their behaviors, show change, and keep the momentum moving in the right direction. The more timely the feedback is provided, the more effective it can be, so ‘real-time’ is the goal.
3. Identify and Segment Key Consumers
Not everyone needs to see the same amount or degree of data. To extract the most value, it’s best to identify and segment key consumers on the basis of how relevant the information is to them and to their goals.
Hospital boards and executives need more extensively aggregated data than frontline clinicians or nurses. For example, they can receive patient experience summaries with detailed information about individual service lines or clinicians. Senior leadership also needs to see data that connect outcomes with processes that influence those outcomes. Clinicians on the ground need performance feedback that has a bearing on their behaviors and patient outcomes.
A data management platform can analyze, format, and present information to specific groups in targeted ways to provide valuable insights and identify opportunities or solutions. Such targeting ensures that those who consume the data can get the greatest benefit from it by allowing them to change their performance or pivot to current events.
Related Resource: Using Data to Improve Patient Experience
4. Make Data Valuable
Don’t just do a data dump, make sure the data you provide has value. According to Harvard Business Review, creating value includes the following steps:
- Identify key performance indicators or high priority metrics and how you will track performance with data.
- Collect and share baseline data to show growth or changes.
- Link data to behaviors. Prioritize what behavior changes will help improve the metrics.
- Acknowledge and control variables. Not everything will be the same so look into variation across groups to uncover potential reasons for data differences.
- Put data reporting processes in place to ensure consistency.
5. Avoid Data Silos
Silos may be useful for grain storage but not for storing data. Isolating data sets in silos reduces data sharing and collaboration between users in different departments. Such lack of visibility makes it harder for your staff to work together effectively.
While individual stakeholders may need to see one type of data instead of another — HR focuses on staff engagement and retention, the CFO on operating cash flow, and the chief medical officer on quality performance metrics — getting the whole picture provides the greatest value from a teamwork standpoint. The key lies in striking the right balance between too much data and too little.
You should not rely solely on one specific type of data collection but pull in other kinds as well. For example, if patient experience scores are low in the ED, factor in comments from unstructured surveys and evaluate data regarding meeting patient needs for care coordination and communication.
6. Prioritize Focus Areas and Present Data Accordingly
Targeted transformation is more likely to succeed than general transformation. You shouldn’t try to improve all areas at once but identify your priorities and focus on a select few and reflect those priorities in your data presentation.
It is also helpful to deliver information in easy-to-read formats to keep consumers more engaged. Data visualization — the use of colors, graphs, and numbers — quickly draws attention to successes and makes areas for improvement more obvious. Different people absorb data and information differently—some get it from the numbers, others from graphs, so use both when possible.
Using data to provide the most value enterprise-wide does not lie just in data collection but in making it relevant, targeted, and actionable. It’s getting data through the “last mile,” bridging the gap so that it matters to board members, administrators, clinicians, staff, and patients alike. Data can help find or confirm the areas needing a better solution. Data turned into repeatable information feedback can help the better solution become the new reality.
SCP Health uses advanced proprietary health care technology to gather data, both individually and facility-wide. We take that data and turn it into actions that benefit quality and performance. Request a consultation to learn more.