What data-driven decision-making is teaching Seattle Children's Hospital

Seattle Children's Hospital is focusing its analytics efforts on better decision-making--what it calls data-informed decision-making--and execution to improve clinical care, Eugene Kolker, the hospital's chief data officer, says in an interview with Healthcare Informatics.

Analyzing rates of hospital-acquired infections across the enterprise is but one initiative in the hospital's Benchmarking Improvement Program, using clinical outcomes measures to track improvement.

It compares itself to other national benchmarks, including the U.S. News and World Report benchmarking process and the Innovator Award program from HIMSS.The efforts have generated the greatest improvement in neonatology, pulmonology and gastroenterology, he adds.

In pulmonology in particular, the effort has been most successful in preventing infections in the intensive care unit and in improving patient survival on ventilator care. In gastroenterology, it has improved outcomes across a range of treatments and in preventing ICU infections.

Kolker says the secret is to engage people first, tackle process second and technology third. He also advises data and IT professionals to "work with people, engage them and turn them into real collaborators.

"People will act on what they develop, or not," he says.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University also use data analytics in clinical care. At the university they used 16,000 patients' electronic health records to create 27 factors to better target patients at risk of developing sepsis.

In addition, a theme in a new report from the National Quality Forum is that the problem of analytics isn't a lack of data, but more the ability to use and apply the data toward improvement. The technology, it says, is fairly straightforward, though not without its difficulties. However, a range of other factors, such as institutional culture, can make it difficult to apply data effectively to improve care.

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