Data is the foundation on which Hospital IQ’s predictive analytics platform is built. But getting the required data from hospitals is not always easy. Hospital IT departments are typically overworked and understaffed. Furthermore, external data requests from vendors typically take lower priority than internal requests from known entities. Given this challenging environment, we’ve found three universal principles that accelerate any IT integration project:
Define a Clear Path to Completion
When the Hospital IQ team engages with a new client, one of the first things we do is share our data specification. This is a detailed description of all the data we need for go-live. But just as important, the data spec defines when the project is done. It lets the IT staff scope the effort, set the appropriate pace, and track progress to completion.
How fast would you run a road race if you didn’t know where the finish line was? Would you be fully engaged, or stop a lot and take lots of rests? It’s the same for any project: if you have a starting gun, you must also have a finish line, and knowing that ahead of time helps ensure success.
Delineation of Roles and Responsibilities
At Hospital IQ, we have best practices regarding the extraction and stewardship of hospital data. But we also rely on hospitals to provide both data and clinical experts who can help us extract and understand the data we’re given. It’s simply not possible to adequately understand hospital data without “native” participants who are deeply embedded in the workflow generating the data in the first place.
Hospital IQ is a growing startup that moves quickly, and nothing would make us happier than to invent a magical process that allowed us to extract and interpret client data without any effort on their part. In reality, we need client participation to ensure a successful data integration process. This means it’s essential for a hospital to provide the right people upfront.
Create Positive Feedback Loops
There’s a misconception that the relationship between IT and vendor is fundamentally confrontational. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our goal is not to “trick” or “intimidate” IT into giving us the data we need. Rather, we build relationships with hospital IT in service of getting to completion faster.
Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is all you need to know about getting people to do things that are more important to you than to them. Chief among Carnegie’s tips are “compliment people in front of their boss” and “be interested, not interesting.” I’m always amazed at how easy this is to do and how effective it is for getting things done.
I always offer IT staff a demo of our product so they can see where their data is going. Even when they decline, which is more typical, the offer demonstrates our belief that IT is a peer, not a spigot that spews data on demand.
When IT departments get a new project or data request, it gets sorted into two broad categories: Projects that go away if they are ignored, and projects that go away if they are completed. The former are vaguely defined without a finish line. Our goal is to always be in the latter category.
For example: a few months ago, a client in the Midwest experienced an “IT emergency” and all IT resources were to be reassigned to a newer, even more urgent, project. This would have meant weeks, if not months, of delay for our integration. But because we had a clear finish line, the right people, and good chemistry between the teams, our petition to keep the project intact was successful and we finished on time. This would not have been possible if there had been a reluctance to continue or we hadn’t been able to demonstrate to executive leadership our proximity to completion.
Data is the backbone of a hospital’s functionality, but only when that data is extracted does it prove to be helpful. When IT departments and vendors cooperate to set expectations, communicate clearly, and get on the same page, they’re acting as a team to lead the hospital to operational success.