Top 10 Reasons the C-Suite Should be on Board with Business Intelligence in the Lab – Part 1

Getting the C-suite on board with business intelligence for medical labs isn’t always easy. In fact, in the past few years, technology has been invading healthcare at a rate that’s uncomfortable for many in the healthcare industry, including executives.

And yet, thanks to advancements in healthcare data analytics, business intelligence, and healthcare IT, the healthcare industry has been able to make great strides toward creating better outcomes for patients while running leaner and meaner. While some in the healthcare industry may have been (or still are) leary of the break-neck speed of technological advancements in health, a shift is happening across healthcare – even in the C-suite. That’s why we want to present you with the top 10 reasons why the C-suite should be on board with data healthcare analytics in the lab.

According to an article in Healthcare IT News, for the first time in 15 years, having healthcare experience is no longer one of the top 10 skills or qualities organizations look for when recruiting for higher level healthcare positions. Today’s healthcare execs need customer relations experience and tech experience in order to excel in today’s healthcare climate.

That’s because savvy laboratory organizations and their leaders know their future is in the numbers. Not just in the raw data from patient outcomes, testing volume, equipment maintenance, and peak periods of demand, but in what the data means and how they should react to it.

There are stories out there about how top-level healthcare executives sometimes balk at serious healthcare data initiatives in their medical laboratories, because:

  • They don’t completely understand healthcare data analytics (which means they also aren’t clear on the ultimate good this kind of business intelligence will do for them, their business, and their bottom line)
  • The start-up expenses to do the job right and create an accessible, easy-to-use dashboard for accessing healthcare data seem almost unjustifiable. They want to keep getting by with what they’ve got. The “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” method of business.

However, if you’re trying to get your executives on board – or if you ARE one of those executives and you’re researching what big data can do for your lab (or any healthcare organization) – keep reading.

In this 3-part series, we’re going to examine the top 10 reasons the C-suite should be on board with business intelligence in medical labs. The 10 reasons can be grouped into 4 categories:

 

The Right BI Tells Your Story

1. What’s the difference between data and business intelligence? Data is a set of numbers. Business intelligence is the story your data sets tell. The data that labs need to run efficiently are intricately connected. You can’t plan the life cycle and maintenance of your equipment if you don’t know what tests you run most frequently and what your peak hours are. Likewise, you won’t know what kind of volume you can handle without knowing what your equipment inventory and maintenance schedules are. As you read through these lists, you’ll begin to see your own connections. BI helps you see interdependencies between departments more clearly, which can help streamline processes, support beneficial interdependencies, and get rid of wasteful ones. That’s why laboratories need solid data analytics.

Business Intelligence in the Lab

2. Track the type, volume, and turnaround time (TAT) of tests in your lab. This reason is one of the pillars that support many of the other things BI can tell you in the lab. Accurately measuring your lab’s workload seems basic enough. However, once you’ve captured this information, there are many ways to break it down. You also want to combine it with other data points in order to accurately predict staffing needs and scheduling, equipment life cycle and maintenance, and projected future need.

3. Hire and schedule staff more efficiently. Proper staffing saves money and lab accuracy, so you’re not understaffed at peak times (which can lead to errors and slower TAT) and you’re not paying for staff you don’t need during slow times. Healthcare data analytics can help track test volume and peak times when samples are arriving, so you can create a better, more efficient schedule. NOTE: Analysts have been predicting lab staff shortages in the coming years. If they are correct, more efficient staffing may not only help combat this problem but may also become an absolutely necessity.

4. Get better error tracking and reporting. Being able to track errors more easily means you can create better processes for following up and fixing errors. Better reporting lets teams examine outliers more easily, too.

5. Get better reporting for mandatory reports and certifications. You’re not the only person who wants to see your healthcare data. Boards, reporting agencies, even new online patient safety “report cards” all want a piece of your clinical data for different reasons. This is where an easy-to-use dashboard that different people throughout your lab can access can save lots of time and frustration. A dashboard can pull together the data from different sources and create good-looking, easy-to-read reports. Saves time over hand compiling the data and battling with it in a spreadsheet. BONUS: Lab techs and lab managers can be trained to pull their own reports instead of relying on IT departments, saving many hours for both departments and lessening that departmental interdependency.

6. Track the test result life cycle. Then, you can look at ways to improve (and even speed up) the life cycle, review it for accuracy, and even use this information to provide more accurate TAT estimates to your healthcare clients, which can improve your customer relations.

These reasons alone should be enough to convince any healthcare executive of the need to use healthcare data analytics to boost customer service and profitability in the medical lab. However, just in case you or anyone else in your organization needs more convincing about how beneficial it is to use BI to take healthcare to the next level, join us for parts 2 and 3 of Top 10 Reasons the C-Suite Should be on Board with Business Intelligence in the Lab.