“Most companies already have the data they need to produce meaningful insights locked away in a database”

I’ve been involved with and consulted for lots of clients who make business decisions based on feelings. Most know they should be getting more concrete data, but they don’t know how and so they are working with the best information they have available. Some organizations mitigate this by doing test-runs and plan/study/do/act analysis, which is great. However, without having true quantitative data on which to base decisions, businesses are making what amounts to little more than guesses as to the right direction to go. Then they find themselves spending countless hours studying results and course-correcting.

Not long ago, I started working with a client that was in the exact situation. They are in the healthcare sector and some of their funding was about to start being based on their patient’s outcomes rather than just number of visits, coding, etc. The good news is that their staff was already using an electronic health record (EHR), but the EHR had very little reporting capability to produce the analysis of the figures they needed.

This meant that in order to get the information they needed to decide which measures they should be submitting they would have to do manual chart reviews and come up with random samples. While this is certainly better than making assumptions, they still wouldn’t have a true overview of everything going on in the organization. Not to mention, it would take a very long time to even get the representative samples completed. Then, even more time to analyze the data and submit the completed data set.

When we learned of the situation this client was experiencing during our regular meetings with the client we proposed a solution. Since their health record was already electronic and had a backend database where all of the data was stored, we proposed creating an electronic dashboard they could use to see all of the information they needed in order to make the best decision. We went to work and a while later created a Microsoft Power BI dashboard that would pull live data from the SQL database that was storing all the information from their EHR. This allowed them to view the information they needed and present it in easy-to-read charts and graphs, based on whatever dates they needed. The data was also available and updated in near real-time! This has allowed them to choose the measures they want to report out on and getting additional information from these measures in the future is as simple as refreshing a webpage.

As I’m sure you can imagine, they were quite happy with these results. So much so that we continued discussing what additional data from other sources can help their business base more of their decisions on facts rather than assumptions. To this end, we have recently finished creating a weekly and monthly dashboard that pulls information from various sources for them to review each month. This dashboard contains the key indicators the management team decided would be helpful and they have started to review it in their meetings every month.

The moral of the story is that if your business is basing its decisions on feelings rather than facts, you should look into some form of data analysis. It can give your organization confidence in decisions and give you a leg up on the competition. In fact, most companies already have the data they need to produce meaningful insights locked away in a database, but even if you don’t, the data you need can be gathered from other sources. In fact, we just got done writing a custom web interface for another client to gather some additional information and they are now reviewing reports based on this information regularly.

If you think your business could benefit from data analysis, get in touch and I’d be happy to talk it over with you. You can e-mail me directly mike@itbyspectrum.com or fill out our contact form