How Does Your Data Grow? | Blog

It’s about this time of year, late summer, when my vegetable garden is most plentiful. After months of dutiful watering and weeding (and some sweating), I can finally sow a full crop. Just like caring for a garden, healthcare organizations must care for their data to ensure it remains fruitful.

Many hospitals forget about tending to and maintaining their data over time to make sure it remains accurate and meaningful to the mission of the organization. Here are my top three tips for maximizing the value and benefits of your data:
1. Make your data grow: First, make sure you take stock of the data you already have. From there, determine the data your users need. Get out there and talk with your enterprise users to clearly identify what data sources and integrations are required for them to effectively communicate. Do they have easy access to those data sources? How are they using that data to do their jobs, and what could you do with that data to provide them with more insights?

2. Prune the weeds: In my experience, healthcare organizations nearly always have more data than they know what to do with. A garden weed is defined as any plant that is considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, and I think those are good descriptors for data weeds as well! Take some time to prune those weeds away so everything that is good about your data garden is not overshadowed or crowded out by the bad. What data sources aren’t helpful to users that could be removed? Which ones are being used, but could use a good cleaning up to be most effective? Keep in mind that important data sources may contain old and erroneous information that hinders the effectiveness of even the most advanced communication tools.

3. Harvest the insights: Now that your data garden is well maintained with vital nurturing and weeding, how are you reaping the rewards? Work with key users and determine which data sources will provide the best and most meaningful information, then educate all users on the insights they can glean from the data available to them.

To help illustrate these steps here is an example. Think about the on-call schedules at a hospital. On-call providers regularly need to be reached by other physicians, nurses, and agents in the call center. Does each type of staff member have access to on-call data? Once they have access can they easily search for and find the person they need?

Accessibility alone does not translate to effectiveness―a 20-page paper binder is not nearly as effective as a searchable online directory, especially in an emergency when time is of the essence. And information that is outdated is problematic, too. What is the best source for this data? The contact center, central scheduling, or from individual departments themselves? Once you are satisfied that the requisite data is available and searchable, make sure your staff are trained on how to quickly find the on-call provider they need and able to use it effectively.

How does your data grow? I’d love to hear your “gardening” tips, too. Don’t have a green thumb? Reach out to me—Spok’s Consulting Services team will be happy to get down in the data dirt with you.