Don’t burden clients with data

In my role of managing relationships with our clients, I spend a lot of time demonstrating the array of operational and clinical data that is captured, the ease of creating reports containing this data and identifying how these reports deliver real-time feedback on important operational issues.

Without exception, they are impressed at the nature of the data that is available and at how easy it is to access this data. Despite their enthusiasm, however, they are slow to “dive in” and start creating reports. Often, we “tease” them by creating sample reports and forwarding the reports to them for review. The reaction we usually get is “Thank you. It looks like valuable information, but I just don’t have time to review it.”

Recently, we have started to conduct our own analysis of the information and to include the analysis and any recommendations with the reports.

Finally, we are getting the reaction that we were looking for. While our clients have little time to review the data in the reports, they find the time to “skip to the bottom line” and digest what the data is telling them and ideas on what they should do about it.

The lesson for me is that I had lost sight of the fact that electronic data management is supposed to make the work of stakeholders more productive. While it is useful to make data easily accessible, the value of that accessibility is severely diluted if we don’t give those stakeholders an easily-digestible summary of what the data means and suggestions on actions that might be taken.

The automation of the process of acquiring, interpreting and reporting a diagnostic test is well-developed in the marketplace. However, healthcare providers also need information on the efficiency and quality of their operations. For this reason, I believe that the next wave of innovation for developers of vital sign management technology should be the inclusion of automated analytic functionality.