Big Data is Worthless Unless It’s Made Small and Actionable

By Chris Hermann

What does Big Data have to do with patient safety? You might be surprised.

Our electronic hand hygiene reminder system captures tens of millions of data points. To use another buzzword, we’ve turned formerly “dumb” hand sanitizer and soap dispensers into smart, Internet of Things (IoT) devices by adding a sensor to them. So we know which healthcare provider is in which patient room at what time, as well as whether or not they’ve cleaned their hands. (And if they forget, we gently remind them, which has been wildly successful in reducing HAIs.)

As you can imagine, this adds up to a lot of data points. Each hospital bed can generate 4,000 pieces of data per month or more. That’s a lot of information…and it’s worthless unless it can be acted upon. As an executive at one of our hospital partners said, “You don’t make a chicken heavier by weighing it!”

We’ve found that the key is to make Big Data small again. That is, condense vast reams of data into digestible chunks that are actionable. What does this look like? It can take many forms:

Patient care and patient safety improves when Big Data is made small and actionable. Thanks to technology, it’s simple to do and saves lives.

If you’d like to explore how our system typically doubles hand hygiene performance rates and reduces HAIs by up to 75-80%, here’s a brief video about how it works. Or here’s a white paper on How the New Joint Commission Hand Hygiene Standards Could Impact Your Hospital.

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