We live in a world that is full of data, but how do we effectively use it to inform our decisions?
Data-driven decision-making allows organisations to make more confident decisions based on evidence rather than guesswork. This enables you to become more proactive by anticipating challenges, opportunities and inefficiencies through trends and patterns which can help to save time and money.
In this two-part blog, I’ll share tips for beginning to capture the data needed to inform decision-making and then utilising that data to inform better business decisions.
Define the ‘purpose’
First things first, you need to collect the data in order to utilise it. So, take some time to define what you want to achieve and what you need to know. Once you know this, you'll be able to identify the relevant data to capture. For example, are you a home care company interested in seeing how well your staff are utilised within the field vs how much time they spend travelling? Or are you a care home that wants to monitor the behavioural patterns of a resident?
Define the ’how’
How are you going to capture the data?
- Manual – on an excel/word document/on paper – this is a good way to capture the data if you’re on a tight budget.
- Electronic system – there are many systems out there that are custom-built to capture data, such as PowerBi and Google Data Studio. If you want to combine data capture with daily care and record keeping, a care management platform like Log my Care covers all your bases.
- Visual – monitoring staff/residents
Don’t forget, data comes in all formats, and not all of it is electronic. It could come from surveys, reports, feedback from stakeholders etc.
Before we collect the data, we need to understand what needs to be captured. For example, if you want to monitor the turnover of staff, you could capture the date of the leaver, how many leavers (both headcount and FTE), length of service and the reason why they left. Imagine having this for a twelve-month period, this would give you an overview of the leavers and allow you to drill deeper into the sub-collections and establish why people are leaving, etc.
Some other factors to consider:
- Staff training to ensure they understand why data is being collected, how to accurately capture data and ensure people know how to use systems etc.
- Remember GDPR - ensure data that is collected will be secure and protected, for example, password protecting documents, locking files away, encrypting devices etc.
- Create a data management plan - how will it be stored, analysed and reported? This will prevent you from capturing data and not utilising it.
- Have a retention schedule - how long you will need to keep the data?
- Ensure you have consent!
Collect the data
Now you know why and how you want to collect data, you can begin. Ensure data is collected as per the preparation stage so that it’s consistent, accurate and reliable. I suggest you commit to this for a long period of time as having a small sample will not give you the bigger picture or allow you to identify trends.
Clean and prepare the data
It is important that after you have collected the data, you clean and prepare it. This involves checking for errors, inconsistencies, and missing data and addressing any issues found.
Analyse and interpret
Once you are sure the data is ready to be used you can then analyse it and utilise it to identify trends, patterns and relationships in the data. Remember, you want to do this to match the purpose of what you want to report on, while also considering if there are any implications, risks or benefits.
Evaluate your options
Consider multiple options or scenarios that could address any problems you have found. Evaluate each option based on the insights and data but also consider costs, feasibility and potential impact.
Make a decision
Use the insights and the evaluation to make an informed decision and ensure you communicate this to your teams, stakeholders, the people you are supporting etc. Using an electronic system, you can create visuals to display the data and showcase it in many ways, including presentations, dashboards, reports, charts etc.
There is no point in having data and not doing anything with it. I have worked for companies that captured lots of data but did nothing with it, and other companies that only captured very small amounts but utilised it to improve the service for the people being supported and the staff team.
Implement any changes needed
Some of the ways you could put data into practice could be:
- Identifying at-risk residents through analysing medical history, medication use, and monitoring vital signs could allow you to prevent hospital admissions.
- Improving care delivery, for example, if a particular thing is not improving the outcomes for people, you can explore new options that do drive better results.
- Monitoring staff performance, for example, sickness and absence or it could be that you have identified a staff member making consistent mistakes which could lead to training and upskilling to prevent this from reoccurring.
- Data may show falls are taking place in a particular area of a person’s home or care home, so it could lead to CCTV, falls detectors, and putting in additional staffing resources so someone is present.
- Analysing data may lead to new processes being implemented which may in turn lead to changes to policies and procedures.
- Analysing data may highlight when there are times when staff are underutilised or overstretched which could lead to you adjusting staffing levels or rotas to ensure the resource is allocated appropriately.
- Identifying areas for further research could be an outcome. For example, retention data or satisfaction surveys may lead you to make changes to how you retain staff and the support and tools put in place for your team.
- Analysing financial data may highlight increased spending on PPE, which could lead you to source new suppliers to help the business save money.
These are just some examples, but there are many more!
Monitor and evaluate
It is crucial that you monitor any changes made and evaluate the effectiveness. Collecting feedback and further data and adjusting decisions if needed.
Remember data has the potential to improve the care being delivered, optimise staffing and drive quality improvements but you need to have the right data sets and then effectively utilise them.
I hope this blog has given you some good insight into the journey of how to collect data, how to utilise it and how to use it to drive changes in your service.