Data literacy as a performance driver
The majority (88%) of healthcare professionals agree that increasing their ability to read, work, analyse and argue with data would help them to perform their job role better. However, more than half (59%) stated that they are having to cope with more data now than they did three years ago, and a third (29%) admit to feeling overwhelmed in their current job role when dealing with data.
“Across Europe, governments set hundreds of performance metrics for healthcare delivery, from cleanliness, to waiting times to mortality rates and reduction in costs,” says David Bolton, VP Industry Solutions, Qlik. “Ensuring the entire organisation, from the board to the ward, has a good understanding of this data is critical to improving these performance metrics. However, challenges arise when organisations have billions of data records sprawled across several different locations. Healthcare leaders must build employees’ confidence in using data by pulling that data together and presenting it in a way that means something, so it can be properly absorbed and utilised in decision-making.”
Augmenting healthcare intelligence
While the research considered employees across the breadth of the healthcare sector – all critical to delivering better patient outcomes – the largest group of the healthcare workforce is doctors and nurses.[i]
Addressing how data can support them to deliver an enhanced level of care, Bolton continues: “On the frontline, doctors and nurses are natural analysts, assessing symptoms to diagnose patients with conditions and prescribe treatments and procedures. By improving their ability to pull in more internal and external data sources, frontline staff will be able to make more confident decisions, based not just on experience and medical training, but on real-world patient outcomes. This may for example show an alternative procedure by a healthcare provider on the other side of the world has achieved better results, with patients experiencing a shorter hospital stay and lower risk of re-admission.”
Cultivating a data driven culture
The importance of data literacy has not gone unnoticed by employees in the sector, with more than half (57%) stating that they would be willing to invest more time and energy into improving their data skillset. However, just 48% agree they have had adequate training to be able to read, work, analyse and argue with data. In addition, 42% do not agree they have access to all the data sets they need to perform their job role to the highest possible standard.
There are some examples of healthcare organisations leading the way and empowering employees to gain better insights from their data, drive efficiencies and deliver better patient outcomes. For example, UK Qlik customer Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust - a well-established data-driven organisation that aims to continuously improve services and facilities for patients, staff and visitors – has a mission statement to be in the top 10% of everything it does, and it has developed an application to keep track of how well it is doing in terms of achieving that goal. The Trust has also set up a voluntary programme called “Quality Champions” to train and empower staff to make service improvements, including modules on how to use information to monitor changes and ensure they are successful.
By using Qlik, the Trust has been able to make significant efficiency savings and improve its quality of care. For example, the Trust’s Theatre app helped to increase theatre utilisation by approximately 7%. This increased the productivity of the theatres which, in turn, reduced the Trust’s waiting lists.
Following these initiatives, patients of WWL are getting treatment quicker than ever before. This is reflected by WWL currently being the 8th best NHS Trust in England against the national Referral to Treatment Target (RTT).
Mark Singleton, Acting Associate Director of IM&T at the Trust, says: “The key to our success is empowering employees to use the data to make real changes. We give employees the motivation and apps to look at data and ask questions that haven’t been asked before. And we are building up the skills and the abilities across the organisation – from nurses to analysts – so the BI team doesn’t become a bottleneck to getting the answers they need.”