by Divina Paredes

MercyAscot hospitals put data at the heart of operations

Aug 17, 2017
Big DataCareersCIO

If you’re not thinking about how you use data to inform your decision making, you are going to be left behind. Dr Lloyd McCann, MercyAscot

“As an organisation, we were data rich, but information poor,” says Dr Lloyd McCann, director of medical services at MercyAscot.

MercyAscot is one of New Zealand’s largest private hospital providers, with more than 600 staff supporting thousands of surgical procedures each year.

“We collect a lot of data, but we do not necessarily use the data to inform our decision making and planning,” he says. “We knew this had to change.”

“We have always done reporting inside of MercyAscot, so it is not a new idea,” explains McCann.

But he says, “We needed a more modern platform to allow people to interact with the data and use it in a timely manner.”

“We recognise that if you look at other industries, we needed to essentially up our game in this area.”

He says what followed was a discussion on their data requirements as an organisation. After a competitive process, the organisation elected Qlik to provide this service.

MercyAscot launched a project to replace its single-view legacy reporting system, with a visual analytics platform that provides self-service access.

MercyAscot worked with Qlik partner Acumen BI to set up and customise the analytics applications.

“There were lots of hours put in by our ITS team and by the project team that essentially worked with Qlik to get this up and running,” he says.

He says the team also did due diligence on integrating the systems and in the design.

“The focus was on how are we going to change the way people think about using data, to do strategic making decisions?”

McCann explains this cross-functional collaboration was important.

“Often, we get hung up on technology rather than focusing on managing change and the people.”

“It is one thing to put a cool solution and if people will use it,” he adds.

“Work through, ‘how is this going to impact people’s decision-making.How is this going to impact their role at work?’

“Clinicians are always interested in ‘show me the evidence’, so inherently, people are always looking to use data to inform decision making.”

“The key thing is information is reliable, accurate and more important, it is there on time to inform that decision making,” he states.

He says today, the MercyAscot hospitals can see a whole picture when it comes to data.

“This has truly changed the perception of the value of data within our organisation,” he states.

“Our people are now interested in the data; openly discussing the numbers and improvements that can be made.

“As a result, we have become more pragmatic; using our data to validate our objectives, which enables us to make business decisions that reflect both the demands of our patients and needs of our staff. ”

“Given the way the world is moving and advances in technology, like machine learning and artificial intelligence, data capture systems like this isn’t a nice to have,” says McCann, on key advice he would give to other organisations on deploying analytics.

“It is a must for all organisations. If you’re not thinking about how you use data to inform your decision making, you are going to be left behind.

“If you can come up with compelling answers to those questions, that will help you demonstrate ROI (return on investment),” he says.

“Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know,” he further advises. “There are other surprises along a journey like this. Be prepared to adapt and learn.”

“We are learning everyday as we use this platform…We are changing things as we go. It is a process that never ends.”

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