Magazine article Policy & Practice

Yes, You Can!: A New Data Mindset to Improve Health and Human Services Outcomes

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Yes, You Can!: A New Data Mindset to Improve Health and Human Services Outcomes

Article excerpt

Health and human services practitioners understand the need for policies and programs that are person centered-for a coordinated health and social care system that addresses the behavioral and social determinants of health and well-being.

Building this foundation for a modern and responsive system demands a new data mindset. Leaders can start with three practices that challenge common wisdom about analytics in health and social care.

1. Go Beyond Compliance

Health and human services agencies have traditionally looked to data as a means to meet federal compliance and operational reporting requirements. These responsibilities are regulatory by definition, and they are a foundational element of this work that will not go away. Even so, agencies can think beyond compliance when it comes to data analytics. They can check the box and think outside of it.

Breaking away from a compliance mindset opens doors to new opportunities to reinvent service delivery and build a stronger network of care in the process. Too few of the world's social services agencies are actively doing this today. Consider that just 29 percent of them use advanced analytics for measuring performance and 21 percent use it to modernize and digitize processes to meet people's technology expectations.1 The biggest surprise is that a mere 15 percent of agencies use advanced analytics to improve service delivery and meet expectations.

2. Get Speed to Insight

Agencies that want to develop their own targeted analytics programs and get results quickly need different tools than most expect. Many decisionmakers think that they must start with infrastructure. They assume the first step is to invest in data warehouses, data stores, and the hardware and software necessary to support them. This is an unnecessary heavy lift-an expensive three- to five-year project that more often than not does not yield desired results for data analytics.

This lack of results happens because while data warehouses have their place in health and human services- for compliance, reporting, and other business intelligence needs-they do not have to be the starting points for analytics initiatives. These programs do not require perfect data, or even perfect data culture, to deliver meaningful results quickly.

With advances in data tools and platforms, agencies can start small, using advanced techniques, and get results faster. So instead of putting time and money immediately into infrastructure, agencies should focus on the data they have, using fast, innovative methods to extract value from it. The key is to use a business lens, identifying a specific business problem or question to address and then "work backwards" to determine the data insight needed to solve it. …

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