Organizations can begin their efforts to innovate with data by following three steps.
1. Identify the challenge. Data can show the issues facing an organization might be readmissions, repeated tests, patient satisfaction or one of many other challenges. Once you know the issue(s), determine the desired outcome and how much time and effort it will take to get there.
2. Find the data that pertains to the problem, and identify gaps in the data. Hint: Your EHR is not likely to be your only best source of data. You may have to play detective and ask questions such as the following:
What would you like to know that you don’t know?
What do you want to know about congestive heart failure readmissions?
What was done for the patients with congestive heart failure?
What brought the patients with congestive heart failure back for care?
Usually, looking at the data elements you have and doing some simple analysis will identify where innovation is needed.
3. Brainstorm. Transactions you see in data might suggest opportunities for improvement. For example, you might note that there are bottlenecks in getting patients from the emergency department (ED) to the cath lab. Data can help determine if that process is actually quick and efficient and what might be causing the delay in the ED. Those observations also could lead to a new idea on expediting patients with myocardial infarctions through the ED. In any case, the data has helped you determine where an action is needed for improvement. Or you might find that increasing home health agency referrals might also bring insight into decreasing readmissions.