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Leaders trust their data, so why aren’t they using it to make decisions?

A new survey finds that while most leaders trust their data is solid, they’re not actively using it to make business decisions.
By admin
May 23, 2024, 9:13 AM

Data, data everywhere – but barely a drop is being used to actively inform decision-making across the enterprise, reveals an extensive new survey conducted by HIMSS and sponsored by Arcadia.   

Four out of five executive leaders trust the accuracy and reliability of their data, but more than half report that they’re only using about 53% of their data assets to make business decisions. 

The stat highlights that there is still a big difference between having access to data and using it in a coordinated, proactive manner to improve clinical, administrative, or operational functions, and shows that there is still a long way to go before organizations can truly claim to be delivering “data-driven care.” 

Familiar barriers are keeping old problems alive 

Leaders are generally confident in the quality of their data, with 69% believing in its overall accuracy and reliability, and 60% stating they think it’s complete and timely. 

Yet the poll of 100 high-level leaders found that the industry is still struggling with the same old challenges that have plagued organizations during the past decade of rapid digital development.  

Organizations are looking toward a comprehensive, platform-based approach to analytics, with 98% agreeing that data platforms are critical for their ability to adopt technologies and tools across the enterprise. 

They are eager to use these data platforms to improve care quality, with 56% of participants believing that is a primary goal for their data strategies, far outpacing the 30% who want to use data to improve workforce productivity or identify cost-savings opportunities. 

However, 48% cited competing strategic priorities as a primary reason why they’re not yet achieving all of their goals. Thirty-seven percent said the complexity of integrating and onboarding created a significant barrier, while similar number blamed the lack of internal resources for slow progress. 

Encouragingly, only 29% said resistance to change among clinicians was to blame, and a paltry 15% said their executives don’t support the adoption of new analytics tools, showing that the momentum might be there – if they can get over their deeply entrenched hurdles. 

What would make data more usable? 

Overcoming these barriers isn’t easy, but respondents seemed to have a relatively clear idea of what might be required to make their data work for them. 

Close to two-thirds said they need to improve collaboration across teams to generate a more comprehensive and coordinated roadmap for analytics adoption. At the same time, 58% believe that enhancing data literacy across the organization would contribute to success. 

Perhaps surprisingly, fewer participants are leaning into governance, with just 48% saying they needed clearer objectives and 43% saying that stronger governance policies would help make progress. Either most organizations are confident that they have the right governance in place already…or too many leaders are underestimating the role of robust policies for data use, especially if they are bringing more and more teams into the fold. 

How will artificial intelligence play a role in data-driven maturity? 

As organizations continue to chip away at fundamental barriers to data usage, they largely aren’t quite ready to make the big leap into artificial intelligence.  

Approximately half of respondents said their organization lacks the data infrastructure necessary to fully realize the value of AI today. 

Only a third of organizations have tools to aggregate unstructured data within their infrastructure, and a similar number of respondents of said they are refreshing data for building or running AI models on a daily or weekly basis, which is important for ensuring that data is timely and accurate enough for use with complex algorithms. 

Overall, more than 3 out of 5 leaders in organizations with more than 2500 employees say that their organizations are not currently building or running AI models on their systems, although the majority have plans to do so within the next 12 to 24 months. In contrast, about 20% of those in smaller organizations say they have no plans to implement AI into their infrastructure at present. 

Refining organizational culture to make data more helpful for decision-making 

The fact that executive leaders have a high level of trust in their data quality is a promising starting point for getting to the next level of data-driven decision-making. But infrastructure is only half (or maybe less than half) of the battle. 

Organizational culture is a huge component of success, and requires concerted investment and collaboration from people at all levels of the business. While decreased resistance among staff and leaders is a great sign, the executive team must still make it a priority to give staff members the room and resources required to learn about how data can enhance decision-making and get familiar with their new toolkit for doing so. 

Providing education, establishing meaningful governance, and developing a culture of collaborative innovation will be essential for turning data into a truly impactful asset for care quality improvement and operational efficiency. 

This process must start with strong leadership from executives and workforce champions – and must be designed in a way that recognizes the risks of burnout and disengagement if staff are overloaded with too many of the wrong kinds of changes. 

 By focusing on breaking down people-related barriers first, leaders will be able to take full advantage of the digital infrastructure they have worked so hard to develop. Over time, this will enhance the overall function of the organization and help to achieve the clinical, financial, and operational goals unique to each enterprise.  

Jennifer Bresnick is a journalist and freelance content creator with a decade of experience in the health IT industry.  Her work has focused on leveraging innovative technology tools to create value, improve health equity, and achieve the promises of the learning health system.  She can be reached at jennifer@inklesscreative.com.

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