Operating in the dark?

By Shmuley Goldberg - May 31, 2017

It is preposterous to think of doctors operating in the dark, yet it isn’t uncommon for health organisations to do exactly that, operate and invest substantial capital with insufficient application of best practice and performance, market and customer insights. Business leaders can no longer afford experience and intuition-based decision making and expect sustainable and superior results. Instead, business decisions need to be substantiated and evidence-based.

Health organisations are information rich yet often knowledge poor. Chances are your organisation is already sitting on a treasure trove of data, such as operational, financial, clinical, customer and marketing. Systemic data analysis and reporting can transform your organisation such as:

  • Uncover new revenue opportunities
  • Improve charge capture
  • Drive operational efficiency
  • Reduce wait times
  • Improve patient safety and quality.

One Melbourne hospital has developed real-time reporting and embedded these insights into its culture. The results were impressive; successful turnaround of underperforming services, reduction in slips and falls on clinical wards and consistently meeting budgets.

How can your organisation achieve these remarkable results? Data analytics will enable you to understand baseline performance, benchmark and track performance. Data is perhaps one of the greatest assets a company can own, however data is as good as the insights produced and actions taken.

In a world of value-based care, data analytics becomes more critical and complex. Revenue is increasingly linked to performance, and program offerings and facilities are requiring redesign to accommodate new delivery models to improve the customer experience. Add to this precision medicine, population health and prevalence of digital technology.

Health organisations are already progressing from ‘diagnostic’ analytics to application of ‘predictive’ and ‘prescriptive’ analytics. Technologies such as artificial intelligence to develop real-time view of individual customer needs and preferences allows for design of customised services and experiences that begin even before the customer steps foot into your facility.

Data analytics is complex, requiring organisational commitment of human and financial capital. Here are four things you can do today to get started with analytics:

  1. Think differently – The world around us is rapidly changing and so are your customer’s expectations. Think about your services from the perspective of your customer. Customers have many options. How can you consistently deliver great value?
  2. Values and vision – Understand your business values, develop a vision and set of objectives. Is it profitability, market growth or customer experience? A vision will help you understand the gap between your current and future state and what may help you close that gap.
  3. What does the data say? - Create a data-driven culture by driving top-down obsession for data and encouraging data-driven decision making throughout the organisation.
  4. Small steps, small wins – As the saying goes, ‘what gets measured gets done’. Perhaps there is a broad organisational agreement of opportunity in one specific operational area. Quantify the performance of this area, determine a benchmark or target and measure current performance against this benchmark. Small steps lead to big leaps. Data analytics journey is long. Recognise and award small wins and leverage each win to build momentum.

Organisations need to develop a comprehensive information management strategy to rethink how they will respond to changing environments and escalating customer expectations to remain at the forefront of your industry. The need for a carefully considered strategy where data is assessed, analytics are developed and measured and actions are monitored is a must to ensure organisations don’t operate in the dark.

Shmuley Goldberg is a Principal Consultant, Business Analytics lead and Health sector lead at Pitcher Partners Consulting Melbourne.

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