Why a Data Addiction Could Be Good for Hospital Performance

Why a Data Addiction Could Be Good for Hospital Performance

How to Foster a Data-Focused Culture

By Jennifer Keller

Gist Healthcare provides a weekly newsletter called the Weekly Gist.  A popular read in our office, we find it to be informative and useful for staying on top of the latest healthcare news.  In this newsletter, they distill the latest healthcare news, trends, and conversations with industry leaders into actionable guidance for CEOs and senior executives.

A recent excerpt from Gist caught our attention. The CMO of a regional health system shared that: “his personal efforts to champion greater performance transparency and tracking of key clinical metrics made a big difference in [his] system’s impressive results in elevating physician performance.” He went on to emphasize that “getting the doctors addicted to data” was a critical element of his system’s success.

The Gist article shared that “producing timely, consistent, and credible reports on key focus areas and creating scalable processes around addressing those issues, are at the heart of their approach.” This CEO knew his system was succeeding when doctors “were rushing to open our weekly emails with their performance data.”

“Great data is essential, but insufficient, to performance management; clinical leaders must build process and culture around harnessing that data for improvement. - Chas Roades, Gist

We couldn’t agree more, Chas! And while this story speaks specifically to elevating physician performance, the lesson here could transfer well beyond physicians. The key takeaway is that culturally, the c-suite will see better performance results if they can get their hospital teams "addicted to data"—addicted to having it, accessing it, making sense of it, and making decisions based upon it. In this post, we’ll discuss some steps you can take to encourage a data “addiction” and foster a data-focused culture.


Remove Data Roadblocks

We recently shared the story of one of our partners, Lexington Medical Center (LMC). In it, we described how the LMC team had been working solely within Excel to compile and measure data. In spite of their best efforts at data-based planning, they were constantly struggling to analyze market share due to their ineffective system. Their process was manual and tedious and they had no way to visualize their data. Without visualizations, it was difficult to identify market shifts, fluctuations, and opportunities.

LMC partnered with Stratasan—gaining access to Launch Pathway—in May 2017. Launch Pathway is a visual intelligence platform that transforms demographic and market data into straightforward, ready-to-use insights. With Launch Pathway, the LMC team could clearly see where volume was increasing or decreasing and what service lines were being utilized. Launch Pathway removed the roadblocks created by data crunching in Excel and allowed LMC to progress to the more high-value work of growth strategy and planning.

Stratasan has been a catalyst for LMC to embrace data and remove roadblocks to growth so they can make more informed growth decisions, and this data-based approach is paying off. LMC has seen market share growth over the last three yearsfrom 55.6 percent up to 58.5 percent.

Download the Lexington Medical Center Success Story

Encourage Data-Based Presentations and Reporting

LMC’s access to Launch Pathway has also meant access to Storyboards, Stratasan’s interactive presentation tool. For meetings with VPs and Directors, the LMC team will often present directly through Storyboards, enabling these meetings to be more productive and collaborative.

Storyboards is a living presentation application that lets users drill into data, then update or add new slides with a few clicks. Our intended use case of focusing on strategy by eliminating time spent data crunching makes Storyboards a perfect use case for meeting facilitation. Attendees can ask questions and receive immediate answers, digging deeper as needed. Questions turn into conversations. The best part of all, Storyboard presentations are updated automatically when fresh data is released, so the presentation you create and share will always have the most up-to-date data. This is a key value for organizations looking to encourage a data-dependency.

Your teams will also be more likely to track their progress and rely on reports they know are current. As with the presentations, any reports built using Storyboards will auto-update as new data is available. Knowing they can refer to an environmental assessment or physician volumes trend report every quarter without the hassle of building a whole new report will encourage your team to more frequently check quarterly progress.

Have the Right Data on Hand to Answer Growth Questions

There is also great value in being able to trust your data so you can be confident in your decision making. In order to build your teams dependency on data, it’s important for them to know that they have access to the right data to answer their growth questions.

If you use the wrong data to assess market share or performance for example, you may miss important segments of your population in your analysis and risk using out-of-date or inconsistent data. But armed with the right data, you can make growth decisions with confidence. In line with the teachings of the DIKW pyramid, you can progress from data to wisdom, where higher-level thinking takes place. When operating from the position of wisdom, you can more effectively lead and explain to others what the best course of action is and why.

The Takeaway: Make Wisdom the Priority (The DIKW Pyramid)

Organizations that emphasize decision making based on data analytics show higher performance, according to an MIT study.1,2 In fact, top- performing organizations use analytics five times more often than lower performers. If I had to guess, these successful organizations don’t simply use data, they’ve cultivated a culture that is “all in” on the value of data.  

DIKW_pyramid_transparent-1Whether you’re the CEO or the leader of a team, you can encourage a cultural dependency on data. This can be done when you break the common cycle of having strategists and marketers caught in the weeds of data and make it possible for them to spend more time leveraging data to make growth decisions. Removing roadblocks, ensuring data recency, enabling data-based presentations and reporting, and using the right data to answer the right questions are a few steps in the right direction. For more information about how to take the hassle out of data so your teams can leverage it more effectively, schedule a time to speak with a member of the Stratasan team today.

Article by Jennifer Keller, Director of Creative Services for Stratasan 

1 Erik Brynjolfsson et al., “Strength in Numbers: How Does Data-Driven Decisionmaking Affect Firm Performance?” (MIT, 2011).

2 Steve LaValle et al., “Analytics: The New Path to Value” (MIT Sloan Management Review, 2010).


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