Following these 5 key steps can help hospitals take advantage of analytics.
Data analytics has become as essential to healthcare organizations as staff and medical supplies. And for good reason: a robust analytics operation is helping hospitals across the country solve many longstanding challenges, from lowering sepsis mortality rates to improving patient satisfaction.
In other hospitals, however, resources are seriously overtaxed. Even requests that can be fulfilled leave data consumers unsatisfied, questioning the data’s validity and complaining that it takes too much back and forth to interpret. With that, here are the five core fundamentals to rebuild an analytics operation into an undeniable success.
In most analytics operations, this will include several different types of customers, each with different needs and abilities to consume data. A helpful way of segmenting customers follows:
Self-service. Typically, sophisticated users or consumers of data who just need some training and orientation to access the data themselves.
Guided tours. These are not everyday users and essentially need a “tour guide” to supply analytics expertise and be responsive to requests as they arise.
Information monitor. What this person needs is a detailed but simple-to-comprehend view of a particular story. Often an executive or other frontline leader, the information monitor appreciates a dashboard that, at a glance, shows “the big picture.”
Regulatory measure submitters. These customers will require significant assistance in assembling reports that meet the meticulous requirements of regulatory bodies.
While not all of these categories may apply to some organizations, the key is to understand the fundamental goals of your different customer types.
Both the analytics operation and its customers must have a clear understanding of which services are provided by the analytics teams. Another sample list follows, highlighting the services increasingly expected by data-driven organizations.
Healthcare analytics teams should be proactive in showing their value. The cost of analytics is highly visible to leadership — and as such, the value provided must be equally, if not more, visible to prove the investment’s ROI.
To that end, an analytics director will need to determine what defines success in a healthcare analytics operation and how to measure it. Be aware that if these definitions aren’t formed clearly and confidently by the analytics director, someone else will do so. A few common metrics include:
In an efficient operation, both the intake and fulfillment processes are clearly defined. The intake process, for example, addresses simple questions regarding how the customer will access the data. Fulfillment is more nuanced and will depend on establishing decision-making rights and process through effective governance.
This step establishes the best way to organize your analytics team. It is recommended to err on the side of generalization and only add specialized team members if and when there’s enough demand for that specialization to be self-sustaining.
Lastly, give careful consideration of who leads and holds accountability for the analytics operation. This person must be a visionary who is closely connected to the customer and has strong executive sponsorship. With these elements in place, along with incorporating the other steps outlined above, the data analytics enterprise will prove itself as an indispensable asset for the healthcare organization’s viability.
Dan LeSueur is senior vice president of client services at Health Catalyst, a leading provider of data and analytics technology and services to healthcare organizations.
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