The strategic importance of becoming a data driven organization in healthcare cannot be overemphasized. Making the transition from opportunistic and transactional information sharing to a proactive data centric business can present challenges for most health systems. It surely is not from lack of motivation, as there is a level of excitement around data in healthcare that couldn’t be more pronounced and it is felt at every level of the organization. So why when we have the desire, the motivation, the mandate, and the tools to make this transition are we having trouble taking meaningful steps to change?
One big reason that is somewhat unique to healthcare is that this change has to take place while the responsibilities of every day work remain unchanged, especially when working with data is not your primary day job. Current reporting and analytic strategies often represent past hard-fought battles for data acquisition, hours with Excel getting the data right, and then fighting for the results to be accepted as fact by the business. Couple those feelings with the sheer habit of my current report and analytic generation process (and yes I know exactly how much of my time it will take to get it done this month!) and you get a recipe for stasis.
As the barriers to acquiring relevant data recede, and the goal of a single harmonized view of the patient, the doctor, the business line, and the practice start to be realized, it is important for the reporting and analytics to transform. No longer should we be climbing mountains to get an answer, we should be looking for innovative ways to present the data to the consumers who will benefit more. And the key ingredient that we need to add to our current recipe is imagination.
Webster defines imagination as “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality”. What that means in this reporting context is to recast your understanding of the challenge of data acquisition and what “we were able to do before” into a blank slate and envision reporting and analytics with no limits. Instead of saying “I want my report or dashboard to be just like what I had before”, we should look to add additional content and value which will expand the usefulness and applicability of the information to the business. An example of this is taking a one dimensional report of volume metrics, by facility, and adding drill down capabilities to departments or service lines, costs and even graph volume metrics over time.
Anything is possible when you have reliable curated data and the imagination to exploit it in new and exciting ways.
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