POSTED : April 7, 2015

Remember taking the long way to class just so you could avoid him?  Sure, the teacher ended up scolding you for your tardiness; but it sure beat having your lunch money taken away from you, or even worse your backpack being thrown in a broom closet!  All of us have endured bullies in our life.  As adults we can see that many of them were insecure, and shared a common trait of not knowing how to interact well with others!

There is a bully that resides within most healthcare analytics applications, or tools, as well.  Its insecurity comes from the fact that it cannot state it has all of the data available, and that the data is of the highest quality.  That same analytics bully also does not know how to interact well with others.

Analytics is not an end unto itself.  It is simply a means to take action.  Knowledge gleaned from analysis of data is simply an indicator, or a status measure.  A good example would be population health.  When that knowledge can be effectively transformed into a call to action and readily shared with others; we begin to affect the status of a population, individual by individual.  A good example would be filling a gap in care for a diabetic patient.

When evaluating an enterprise analytics solution, it is important to remember the difference between status indication and individual intervention.  Yes, it is important to understand the status of your various populations and to identify trends over time.  The bully within your population health analytics remains insecure in that it cannot explain how to move the population needle in the desired direction on the gauge.

It is also critical that your analytics solution can help identify opportunities for intervention at the individual level.  This allows for the clinical interventions to take place which proactively move the population health needle in the right direction.  Do not allow your organization to fall prey to an analytics solution that does not easily surface actionable information; or worse yet, a solution that cannot readily share its results with other systems (point-of-care, predictive, case management, etc.).  To allow so would be to empower the bully even further.

We live in an age of information overflow and fatigue.  But information serves little purpose if action cannot be taken upon it.  It must be transformed into knowledge, which allows for action that over time forms the foundation for knowledge.  This holds especially true for healthcare analytics.  Each of us has an obligation to disempower the bully and move forward confidently and collaboratively.

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