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Effective Healthcare Guidelines for Using Data vs. Being ‘Data Driven’

There is no shortage of data in the healthcare marketplace, and also no shortage of organizations insisting that they are “data driven” and poised for success because of that willingness to utilize any and all data available to them.

Sounds good, but without action it’s just buzz speak, says Zach Gemignani, co-founder and CEO of Juice Analytics, a Nashville-based company he and his brother co-founded in 2005 after seeing companies working hard, not smart, in the data-dissemination space.

“When someone says they are ‘data driven,’ it doesn’t tell me anything really until I see them do something about it,” Gemignani says. “It sounds like a great thing to be, but actions speak louder than words. When I look at an organization to see whether they are following through on that kind of objective, I look at the leadership and see whether the leaders are actually demonstrating that kind of data-driven decision-making.”

In short, are they using critical performance measures such as:

  • How are we performing?
  • What are our investments?
  • Are those investments achieving the kind of outcomes we want?

When it comes to data, more is not always better, Gemignani explains.

“There is a tendency to create a huge number of metrics and not really have enough focus for anyone to really understand what you should be paying attention to,” he says. “Being able to narrow down to a small set of metrics and communicate that throughout the organization is a critical element.”Gemignani also points out that the workforce must be able to operate within the data stream as well, along with understanding what’s being generated.

“Are you building a workforce that has the skills and capabilities to be data-driven themselves? It can be a struggle for a lot of people to bring data into the way they make decisions on an everyday basis,” he points out. “Training needs to be done. There needs to be top-level leadership that helps people understand that when they have a meeting and they’re making decisions about what projects to invest in, that that should be driven by some measures of what you’re trying to achieve and how you’re measuring success. Build a foundation, a base set, of people who have the skills and comfort with working with data so that they bring that into how they do their work.”

Completing the ‘last mile’ for using data

Juice Analytics has been working with companies to close the gap, or the “last mile” between expensive, extensive data warehouses and mining operations and actionable, usable data in the workplace. It’s not a problem unique to healthcare by any means.

 

“Every industry we’ve run into has invested a lot in gathering data for a long time,” Gemignani says. “We’ve all heard about Big Data. We’ve all seen the data warehouse projects that go on and on. All those investments are the foundation on which you can start to build an organization that is data-driven and builds data products. A lot of companies get stuck at that first phase of gathering the data, not really knowing how they can transform that data into something valuable. And from our perspective, if they data doesn’t get into the hands of everyday decision-makers, the people who are on the frontlines of your organization, who are making choices all the time, in a way they can understand it then all of that gathering of data is essentially wasted.”

For many companies, the last mile is taking their data and packaging it into an interactive, web-based application that is then delivered to those decision makers. It must communicate not only the data that’s been gleaned, but what should be done with it.

“Often, those people are not analysts. They’re not people who spend a lot of time with data and you’ve got to be able to deliver in a way that’s going to be really easy for them to understand,” Gemignani cautions. “That’s a really important part of the last mile. Our focus over time has been to create ways to lead that type of non-analytical person to be able to view and explore data in a way that’s going to be very obvious what, what action they should take to achieve a better outcome for their organization.”

About Zach Gemignani:

Zach Gemignani is co-founder and CEO of Juice Analytics, a Nashville-based company helping transform how people communicate with data. Its products include Juicebox, a SaaS platform for delivering interactive data-storytelling applications to inform smarter decisions. He also is author of the Wiley book Data Fluency: Empowering Your Organization with Effective Data Communication, has served on the leadership committee for the Nashville Analytic Summit for several years and has been named a Most Admired CEO by the Nashville Business Journal.

This blog post is taken from a HealthStream Second Opinions Podcast that was recorded recently. To hear Zach Gemignani’s full discussion, click here.

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