Planning patient data analytics strategies with quality in mind

Developing a comprehensive analytics strategy for patient data requires forethought, planning and customization. But it can pay off in spades.

An analytics strategy is more than simply a data utilization strategy, a data analysis strategy, a technology strategy or a quality improvement strategy. In fact, elements of all these are required for an effective analytics strategy.

Trevor StromeTrevor Strome

The purpose of an overall analytics strategy is to guide a healthcare organization's ability to respond rapidly to the informational needs of key decision makers while supporting the organization's quality and business goals. A solid patient data analytics strategy will help the analytics team become a strategic information resource for business improvement, not simply purveyors of reports and data.

These areas should be considered in a comprehensive analytics strategy:

  • Business and quality context (the organization's quality and performance needs)
  • Stakeholders and users (primary stakeholders, and key business and clinical analytics users)
  • Data and processes (the data that's available and required, and the processes that align with the data)
  • Tools and techniques needed to create the required analytics tools
  • Training and team (the training required to ensure employees learn the required analytical skills)
  • Technology and infrastructure (the technology investments needed to support the organization's analytics needs)

Organizations in all industries spend significant effort on developing a strategy, but often fail at executing their strategy and achieving their goals. The bottom line is that developing a strategy is a wasted effort without a true intent and capability to execute it.

A strategy is the starting point to help organizations achieve the maximum benefit from analytics. A completed strategy will help an organization identify what it does well, what it needs to do better, where it can consolidate and where it needs to invest. An analytics strategy has to evolve as the analytics needs of the organization and its stakeholders evolve, as technology becomes better and/or less expensive, and as the analytics state of the art itself changes. A strategy shouldn't be set in stone. An organization shouldn't be afraid to revisit its strategy frequently to ensure that it's up-to-date and that its execution is successfully meeting all stated requirements.

Trevor Strome, MSc, PMP, is an informatics/process improvement lead for the Emergency Program at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, and an assistant professor in the Faculty of Medicine's Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Manitoba and Seven Oaks General Hospital. Strome is based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Let us know what you think about the story; email editor@searchhealthit.com or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

This was first published in May 2013

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