Data has been a buzz topic in healthcare for a while now – and with good reason.
The wealth of information gathered in healthcare is a gateway to improvements in quality and patient safety. It provides insights that can support proactive, precise and personalized care.
This is not a new trend in healthcare. In the US, the focus on measurement in healthcare is stronger than ever with MACRA and MIPS. And, as quality measures continue to become the yardstick for funding and procurement across North America, the emphasis on reportable data is only growing.
Last month in Stanford Medicine's inaugural healthcare trends report, the focus was harnessing data. The report highlighted the potential of data in healthcare, but also some of the most serious obstacles in the way of that goal – crucial considerations like security and privacy, tighter budgets and building tech literacy.
Meeting these challenges increasingly means fostering collaboration between teams in healthcare organizations that previously have operated in siloes. One example, according to recent survey data collected by HIMSS analytics is the opportunity for collaboration between IT and clinical departments.
According to the survey, both IT and clinical teams agree that reducing clinical errors and ensuring patient safety is top priority. But, beyond that, they have varying perspectives. IT has a focus on access to data – while clinical places equal emphasis on accessing data and streamlining workflows.
These secondary priorities echo another trend in healthcare: usability.
Usability, according to a definition from the International Organization for Standardization in a recent Healthcare IT News article, is defined as: "The effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which specified users achieve specified goals in particular environments."
In practice, this often relates strongly to workflows and tools that support work being done across organization and between departments and teams. After all, improving safety and quality in healthcare is an all-hands-on-deck project, and information is only powerful if it is reflected on and acted upon.
One application is to support cross-department collaboration. Merging perspective and bringing together teams that previously would have been distinct, provides new opportunities to get an understanding about the pressures departments are facing and how to support them. It also encourages teams to use resources to their fullest potential – for example, connecting IT and clinical can lead to clear understanding of frontline workflows so technical teams can use that insight to optimize both departments' workflows.
Technology is a powerful tool in gathering information to support improvements in healthcare, but the people using it have the knowledge and expertise needed to make change happen.