Automation is one of those concepts that can mean different things to different organizations — and quite often, to different people in the same organization!
For example, some IT specialists will only dub something truly automated if it completes at least 50 distinct tasks in a multi-layered workflow with zero human intervention. And then on the other end of the spectrum, some folks are happy to stamp the automation label on spreadsheets with a macro.
When it comes to automation in healthcare reporting, hospitals sit between these two extremes. Workflows do not have to be so complex that they are impenetrable to all but a few elite and initiated “Automation Masters” (they speak in code and have a secret handshake). At the same time, far more is expected from the automation factory than mere spreadsheet macros. In fact, spreadsheets themselves are often part of the reporting problem — but we will leave that for a separate discussion!
Essentially, automation in healthcare reporting should be defined and driven by five core elements: real-time information, accessibility, enterprise-wide distribution, role-based access and security, and best-use case.
Information has an expiry date, and teams that rely on outdated data to make decisions or reach conclusions at best end up having to do re-work, and at worst end up having to do damage control. As such, reports must capture real-time information, or nearly real-time information if precise up-to-the-second data is not feasible given the data syncing limitations of external sources.
It does not matter how much quality information reports contain if they are confusing — or sometimes outright impenetrable. Reports must be accessible, easy-to-understand and audience-specific. Otherwise, they will be perceived as necessary evils (with an emphasis on the “evils”).
For hospitals, distribution is where the proverbial rubber hits the road for a reporting system — and unfortunately, instead of getting traction and moving forward safely, there often spin their wheels or start sliding out of control. Without full enterprise-wide distribution, disparate data silos emerge and give rise to conflicting and contradictory reports; including those that rely on the same underlying data sources.
While the ultimate goal of all healthcare professionals — from intern to executive — is to ensure and optimize patient health, this does not mean that all employees should have the same access to reporting systems. Rather, access and associated security permissions must be based on role. For example, physicians and nurses typically need access to individual health information, while population health administrators typically need access to analytics reports.
One-size-fits-all reports invariably fail to completely fit anyone’s needs. The cure for this common reporting illness is to have multiple reporting options that support different best-use cases. For example:
|Type of Report||Best-Use Case|
|Grid||Lots of data; drill down; research|
|Dashboard||Quick glance; daily status|
|Control Chart||Process improvement|
|Indicators||Status on goals over time|
|Ad Hoc||One-time needs; special requests|
When healthcare reporting automation is driven and defined by these five elements, employees can stop going to battle with their reporting function, and start making smarter, faster and more successful decisions. And in the big picture, isn’t that what healthcare reporting is supposed to be all about?
At Polaris, we help hospitals access and exploit all five elements of healthcare reporting automation — real-time information, accessibility, enterprise-wide distribution, role-based access and security, and best-use case — so they can ultimately make faster, smarter and safer decisions.
To learn more about our solutions, technologies and approach contact Polaris today.