What They Are, How to Address Them, and How to Avoid Them
By Hank Neuhoff
Many hospitals and healthcare systems are challenged with having too many analyst needs and too few analysts to complete the work. The massive increase in available healthcare data and our insatiable desire to extract value from that data are both going to continue to grow.
With the increased need for analyst expertise and the shortage of analysts to do the work, we simply cannot afford the cost, time, or trauma of repeating classic analyst missteps. The purpose of this post is to highlight some of the common mistakes analysts make and address how to avoid them.
1. Reluctance to Change
“We’ve always done it this way” is a line of thinking held by analysts willing to maintain the status quo rather than look for ways to evolve, keep pace with new trends, and implement best practices that could improve their results. Analysts must be open to tips and tricks that can make their lives easier. The demanding nature of this position requires an openness to new strategies that allow for greater efficiency and effectiveness in the minutia, leaving time for more complex, time-consuming analysis.
If some reports can be put on auto-pilot with the help of a software tool that will auto-renew when new data is available, this can take pressure off of an analyst faced with a mountain of on-going, quarterly updating reports. Resistance to this strategy may come from the fear that if you automate parts of your job, you could be obsolete. But that line of thinking is simply unfounded. With certain ongoing reports set to auto-renew, your time will be more open for new high-value activities.There are a number of tools on the market that could make an analyst’s life easier. To identify the right one for you, start with the following steps:
- Assess the biggest bottlenecks and drains on your time.
- Make a list of reports requested most frequently and prioritize this list by importance, relevance across the organization, and difficulty of execution.
- Survey the software options on the market and determine which would be the most beneficial to your organization and take the largest burden off of you, as an analyst.
- Choose a software solution and put it to work!
Stratasan’s solution to this problem is Launch Pathway. Equipped with a tool like Launch Pathway, the overwhelm you face as an analyst can become a thing of the past. Quarterly reports that cover your hospital’s market share and volume can be presented in an easy-to-share format that’s ready for insertion into a PowerPoint presentation. Plus, with the help of Stratasan’s Storyboards and Gallery, both complementary Launch Pathway tools, your reports will auto-renew with new data is available and be immediately available to your team for review.
Not every solution must be shrouded in complex formulas or stretched across several databases. Sometimes a simple analysis is all that is needed. With the depth of understanding and experience that most healthcare analysts hold, they run the risk of over-thinking and over-engineering a report in an effort to show all the possible angles.
But often, an over-engineered analysis only returns minimal additional insight, at best.
A key to making sure a process isn’t over-engineered is to keep it as simple as possible; including only what is necessary and nothing more. This is particularly important in the face of an overwhelming to-do list. Here are a few ways to make sure you aren’t over-engineering, but instead, focusing on key needs:
- Ask for prioritization from your colleague who requested the report. Don’t assume what questions need to be addressed in your analysis, ask for clarity and direction as to which areas of analysis are most important.
- Trust your gut, sometimes simple common sense is a good guide to know when you’re in danger of over-engineering a report. If a solution seems too difficult to achieve, you may be making it harder than necessary on yourself.
- If you find yourself spending more time on two or three processes or formulas than the actual analysis of the information, that may be a red flag that you’re over-engineering.
- Consider having to explain your methodology to the requestor or an audience. Your explanation should get to the analysis and outcomes quickly. If you find your methodology explanation mired in equations and/or Excel machinations, you may lose the trust of your audience.
3. Working in a "Bubble"
It’s important that you deliberately work to stay in sync with the marketing and business development teams making demands on your time. Buried in work, it could be easy to stay heads down and become siloed from co-workers. Instead, make an effort to avoid this situation and strive to collaboratively work alongside partner teams in fulfilling their requests. Here are a few tips to avoid working in a "bubble:”
- Make sure you fully understand the request. It can be a tough line to walk, but the literal solution to a literal request is not always helpful. Try to understand the goal of the requestor and consider the ripple effects of your analysis.
- Always try to envision that the audience is not the requestor. Within reason, make sure that the person receiving your work can explain it to others without your help. This can come in the form of clear notation or a short phone call.
- If you see a part of your analysis that looks out of place—investigate it. You can bet that it will look out of place to others too!
Your goal should be to keep an open line of communication with your teammates who are making analysis requests. It shouldn’t be strange to talk about the analysis more than twice: at the request and at the delivery should be a minimum of communication and more is often better! Include the requestor in a consultative role if possible, that way they feel more comfortable with and informed about the project.
Even with reduced budgets and fewer analysts on your team, your practices can be refined, augmenting your ability to more efficiently and effectively keep your to-do list under control and the teams you support equipped with the insights they need. If you find yourself backlogged and overwhelmed, consider looking for ways to improve your systems, when possible, bring on the outside support of a software tool that can automate quarterly, ongoing analysis.
Article by Hank Neuhoff, Director of Continuous Improvement for Stratasan