5 Questions Every Healthcare Executive Should Ask Before Implementing Data

February 2, 2015
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health data implementationData is enticing. From a distance, it seems to glimmer like a promised land of heightened knowledge, greater insight, and success. Amid the pressures of change in the healthcare industry, it’s no wonder there’s a race to implement data practices — everyone is trying to keep up with competitors and adapt to new rules and regulations. 

health data implementationData is enticing. From a distance, it seems to glimmer like a promised land of heightened knowledge, greater insight, and success. Amid the pressures of change in the healthcare industry, it’s no wonder there’s a race to implement data practices — everyone is trying to keep up with competitors and adapt to new rules and regulations. 

But simply waiting for your IT team to roll out the latest technology isn’t going to help you bring value to your healthcare facility. After all, technology is merely the vessel where big data sits ready to be applied to your organization. If you don’t know where you’re going or what you aim to achieve, there’s little value in spending the time reaping it.

Your IT team might be first-rate at analyzing data, but it’s you — the leader — who needs to be taking the lead when it comes to making that analysis valuable by aligning it with your organization’s overall goals.

You Need Goal-Driven Data to Bring Value

Of course, it’s tempting to rush into new tech implementations. Most organizations are used to their traditional system, so rather than seeking out unfamiliar but better changes, they’d prefer to make tweaks to their existing systems. But in doing so, they aren’t thinking about innovative ways to improve patient care; they’re just trying to keep up with competitors. 

This isn’t totally their fault. Healthcare is going through a particularly complicated structural evolution right now. The Affordable Care Act brought about hoards of new regulations and measures. Now organizations are reimbursed differently for different kinds of patients and according to the quality of care they provide (e.g., level two for flu, level five for a head injury, etc.). Measuring the value of each case is a tricky balancing act.

Organizations also suffer financial penalties for high readmission rates and other metrics, driving them to compete with other organizations. With hospitals running on such tight budgets, it pays to be able to analyze value-based metrics and maintain profitability while ensuring quality in patient care.

Uncover Your Aims to Drive Your Data 

The word “value” is crucial, and its meaning differs depending on the organization. That’s why your metrics need to be directly aligned with your specific, unique goals. But to set the right goals, you need to ask some tough questions:

1. What is your top priority as an organization? Do you want to be a general hospital or a specialty hospital that emphasizes cancer care or OB-GYN services? If you want to be one of the top cancer centers in the country, you’ll need to prioritize your data analysis accordingly and actively measure the quality of care for cancer patients.

2. Where are the holes in your strategic plan? Are there areas in which your plan is hazy or insufficient? Find out what information you need to be able to fix these weak spots. If you need outside consulting or training, discover that need before you go any further with data.

3. How do you want to grow? Do you want to expand, or do you want to pivot into another area of specialization? Whatever the case, you need to implement tech based on your specific growth area. Start looking at performance metrics that specifically align with your goals so you can zero in on your organization’s future.

4. What do you excel at, and what do you struggle with? You need to be aware of where you’re failing to utilize the right data metrics to help you achieve your goals. Do your patients consistently give you high scores for room quality? Is your readmission rate higher than it should be?

5. Are you happy with your current tech solutions? How is tech already used and understood in your organization? If there’s a level of confusion about it, you might need to adjust your goals to include improving your current tech processes to allow for better goal-driven data analysis.

Once you’ve identified your goals, you can build your overall strategy around them. Then, you can implement a data strategy based on the areas you want to excel in. If you don’t keep your data strategy in alignment with your goals, its real value will escape you. So embrace the changing climate and fight uncertainty with clear goals. Your patients will thank you for it.

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