Had an interesting text conversation yesterday that I thought worth sharing as it brings up a good question… can you have process improvement without analytics?
I got a text randomly yesterday from a friend who is considering a new job as an analyst for a hospital.
Friend: Hi Dan, I got a question on analytics. If I wanted to increase the utilization of rooms in a hospital, what kind of data should I be looking at?
Me: Do you want a well thought out plan or a quick and dirty answer?
Friend: I suppose quick and dirty.
Me: Length of patient stay. % of special needs patients. Physical dimensions of space to see if space is optimized. Understanding of patient process flow to see where wasted time is. Then put it all together to come up with some current metrics and then track against optimal case metrics.
Friend: What exactly do I need to be looking for if I go look at length of stay? What are optimal case metrics?
Me: To optimize usage, you need to gather data for key metrics as they currently are. And then project the same metrics is everything was working at its most efficient state. Length of stay is a key metric as you need to determine what is causing longer than expected patient stays. This will help you minimalism things causing wasted time. Analytics will identify waste and then you use metrics reporting to manage the waste. Make sense? This sounds like as much a process improvement project as it does analyst work doing some new metrics reporting. It could be a very interesting project with both short-term consulting on the process improvement and long-term need for an analyst to monitor the data via metrics reporting.
Friend: Yeah, you are making lots of sense. So, if I were trying to shorten length of stay, I would look at current length of stay per case. Then look for all the factors impacting length of stay, and then improve the process flow for the ones where its taking too long.
Dan: Something like this is how I would start.
Based on my experience, when you are presented with a business problem and asked to help solve it. It’s almost always an issue of a process that is inefficient or wasteful that is the root cause, but you need plenty of data to identify that. A good analyst is just as much a process improvement guru as they are a reporting expert.
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