Getting the Most from a Hospital Dashboard

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Are you a key decision-maker at a hospital? If so, you have many sources of data to review and interpret to make the right choices for your patients, staff and the hospital. How can you stay alert to situations and trends that affect your patients, staff satisfaction and effectiveness, and quality of care?

A hospital dashboard helps you to monitor performance, spot trends and see where improvements are necessary. Dashboards usually include graphics so the data can be scanned quickly by executives and managers.

A hospital dashboard should focus on at least these three main categories:

  • Quality of care: such as length of stay, readmissions and care for patients with acute myocardial infarction.
  • Financial health: including days of cash on hand, the operating cash flow margin and the cash-to-debt ratio
  • Operational efficiency: this would include administrative costs and revenue trends
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A dashboard should not overwhelm the user with information, such as too many ratios and stats. Also, depending on your role, the dashboard’s content may differ. For example, the Chief Financial Officer is more concerned about changes in revenue and costs, while the Chief Information Officer wants to see how long IT projects are taking and how many employees are working on a project.

Metrics that make sense

Hospital leadership needs to identify and agree on which key metrics need to be measured and tie them to performance goals. If progress on a metric is lagging, the dashboard should highlight that as an area for management to delve into, find the causes and create realistic solutions.

Compiling, Integrating and Accessing Data

A hospital dashboard compiles reports from a variety of departments: Human Resources, Clinical, Finance and Quality. Each department separately gathers and compiles data. Next, these reports are often combined so management can quickly see the results and if departments are meeting their goals.

Creating a hospital dashboard can take a lot of time and involve data analysts who collect and interpret the data. Another option is partnering with an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) to simplify the process and integrate data from various departments so you can easily access and review it. This data warehouse becomes the single, consistent source of information you can trust. Staff can rely on the data and use it to make important decisions about care.

Rather than spending time tracking down the right person with the information you need, you simply use the hospital dashboard for answers.

Leveraging Data for Better Outcomes

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How you can use an enterprise data warehouse and hospital dashboard to improve quality outcomes? One example is reducing the number of patient readmissions. This is not only an important clinical measure, but it also has a financial impact since Medicare withholds payments to hospitals who fail to meet readmission standards.

One large health system lowered their heart failurereadmissions by leveraging information from an EDW to analyze the data and set the goal of lowering the readmission rates for heart failure patients. An internal team then chose three interventions to reach that goal. They involved:

  • A doctor reviewing medications with the patient and explaining how to take them.
  • A nurse setting up a follow-up visit with patients before they were discharged.
  • Someone from the care team calling patients after discharge to answer questions and assess their condition.

To track these three interventions, an integrated dashboard was set up in the EDW platform. This allowed clinicians and administrators to track the interventions and how they were affecting the readmission rate. What were the results? After just six months, the health system experienced impressive results, including a 21 percent reduction in 30-day heart failure readmissions.