The Blue Cottage Blog

Knowledge is Power

by on March 29, 2010

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When Kofi Annan said, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating…” he was talking about education, but the statement certainly applies to hospitals and other healthcare organizations.

Virginia Mason successfully integrates process improvement into the fabric of their culture and strategy and has a lot of experience in gaining knowledge about their processes and how to improve.  But they’re certainly not the norm, and there is so much conversation about the collection of, validity of, and organization of data that it’s hard to know where to even begin.

AHRQ has three insights to data collection:

1. Measure fewer things better.

2. Stories count and simplify.

3. Couple measures with high performance standards.

These intuitively make a lot of sense. In keeping with the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) mentality, it’s just better to track a few measures critical to understanding whether or not your goals are met. Anecdotal stories are easier to remember than percentages. And everybody can understand the gap between current state and a goal means there’s still work to do.

But that doesn’t necessarily help with the first challenge faced when trying to find out what’s going on with a situation. The first challenge is: how do I get the data that I can organize into information in the first place?

I hope that people comment and share what they’ve learned.

Here are some things that we’ve used and heard of other people using:

· Walking the process (shadowing patients/clinicians)

· Watching the process (standing in one spot and building the story from watching it)

· Video-taping the process

· Tracking the process through RFID

· Talking to people

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