WIHI: Making Data Work for Quality Improvement

Date: February 25, 2016
  • Leonard D’Avolio, PhD, Assistant Professor, Brigham and Women’s Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care; CEO and Co-founder, Cyft
  • Kedar Mate, MD, Senior Vice President, Institute for Healthcare Improvement
If you’re going to measure, as we know health care improvers must do, you’re going to generate data. But in a world where there increasingly seems no end to what can be tracked and quantified and analyzed, there’s a real danger of creating a lot more data than you truly need. It’s great to have the data, and electronic health records are making it easier to obtain and store tons of information, but now what? How can it be put to good use? Will it make patients safer and healthier? Will it help determine where the gaps are? Reduce visits to the ED? Increase visits to primary care? If you’re starting to wonder what you’re doing with all your data, you might want to listen to this WIHI. 
Our guide for this discussion is someone who’s been doing a lot of thinking, and advising, and writing on the growing focus in health care on data, and the hype that may be getting in the way. Len D’Avolio has spent the past dozen years working to make data useful for hundreds of health systems, health plans, and foundations. He uses the phrase “data thinking” to describe a process that can ensure whatever data you’re generating or mining has a clear purpose and context. Len unpacked this process and connected it to some strong organizational examples and experiences. IHI’s Kedar Mate  joined Len to underscore the need for improvers to “measure what matters” and addressed the challenge of top-down mandates driving agendas and data collection, in the absence of clear plans for how to make the best use of data.

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