5 Foundational Steps to Create a Data-Driven Hospital

By Chris Hermann


Changing healthcare is impossibly hard but, now more than ever, is an absolute imperative. In order to keep pace with the rapid changes that are occurring, hospitals must be able to leverage data to impact patient care.

In order to do this successfully, hospitals must embrace a combination of data, technology, complex workflows, and the extremely busy clinician. We’ve seen the following steps work well in terms of changing a hospital’s culture around hand hygiene, but these tips can be used for just about any type of organizational change.

  1. Focus on the “what,” not the “who.” When trying to drive behavioral change, most organizations intervene with the people involved directly. For example, if a clinician isn’t cleaning their hands, many institutions focus on solving the people factors associated with this. This simply doesn’t work. Rather than driving change through the “who,” focus instead on the “what” by addressing shortcomings in culture, process, and education. The reason that this works so well in healthcare is that nearly all clinicians are highly educated and self-motivated individuals. By fixing the “what,” you can take advantage of this and lead to more effective and efficient patient impact.
  2. Radical transparency around goals. Clinicians need to know the standard to which they’re being held – otherwise they’ll assume the worst. They may fear being fired if their hand hygiene performance rate isn’t 100.0%, when their hospital’s expectation may actually be quite a bit lower. Many times, we have found that if clear expectations are not set up front, clinicians will either push back or spend too much time nitpicking about details that don’t matter.
  3. Fanatical feedback. The key to sustained change is to consistently have conversations. The conversation doesn’t have to be long or complicated – just touching on the subject keeps it top-of-mind. For example, our most successful hospital customers spend 30 seconds in their daily huddle to talk about hand hygiene performance.
  4. Keep it fun. Any change – including in hand hygiene – can be done in a positive way. There is no rule that serious business can’t be fun! We’ve talked about this before (more than once). The proverbial carrot always works better than the stick.
  5. Elevate the “why.” Be sure everyone understands the purpose behind the change. For our customers, it’s really not about increasing hand hygiene performance rates. Ultimately, it’s about patient safety and saving lives. That’s what keeps staff engaged. That’s what inspires them to embrace change and ultimately transform your organization.

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