The Pursuit of Perfection: Bringing Analytics to Healthcare Workflows

blog 14

By Bill Reid, SVP of Product Management and Partners, SCI Solutions

30 times a minute. Reach, catch, pull, release, slide. Ever in pursuit of the perfect stroke.

I had the good fortune of being a collegiate rower, and over four years spent my time on a river with schoolmates trying over and over to achieve perfection. We would place our shells in the water, begin by doing some warm-ups and then off we’d go on some workout – with the “hour of power” being one of my favorites – where we’d ply our oars over and over for 60 minutes or, at 30 strokes a minute, 1800 times. Throughout this time we had a constant source of feedback – our own personal observation, a coxswain watching all eight of us move in unison and barking feedback and a coach or two riding along in a boat alongside with a megaphone, providing commentary. Yet, despite all that observation and data, seldom did we really feel we hit that perfect stroke, and not just our individual stroke but that of the collective boat. How were my hands, did our oars go cleanly into the water, did we all pull together, and did we move smoothly up the slide to do it again. But every day, we went back after it, making improvements individually and collectively. Aiming for perfection.

In healthcare, we do the same, but often without the advantages of what we had in my boat. There seldom is immediate feedback. We operate without the benefit of a coxswain watching us to ensure that we each do our individual part, collectively. There is no coach able to see us from a different perspective and give us feedback in real time to allow us to do it better two seconds later.

There is talk of bringing big data to healthcare, of applying advanced analytics, of being even more sophisticated in the use of Lean principles and other performance improvement techniques. As noble as these analytics efforts are, we need to think about how we can get closer to the action by bringing the insights we discover to the people performing specific tasks. How can we get the feedback to each person in our healthcare crew in time to make a collective correction the next moment we act?

Healthcare needs to bring measurement to the transaction level – to allow people to see in the workflow what needs to happen, how it can be improved upon, how we can be steering in a better direction, applying the right leverage across our networks and resources. Is this the right provider for this case, should it be referred or managed, are we ensuring the patient is covered with insurance, have we prepared everyone for the procedure, does the patient know what he or she owes? Have we done it better this time than ever before? Not only do we each need to know if we have improved at the individual level, but we also need to know if we have collectively improved outcomes.

Healthcare is a lot like a boat of rowers – each person has a role and an area of contribution, and the collective effort is what determines our impact on the lives of patients. We all are in pursuit of perfection.

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