So much of what we do in healthcare is about the “what if’s”—the educated guess, or even better, the SWAG. Facts we know to be true today prove to be unfounded tomorrow. More and more data becomes available on a daily basis as we improve technical proficiencies to disseminate the pieces and parts of how and why the human body works. It is a never-ending circle of evaluation and discovery.
I have a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When she was born 15 years ago, we received a number of educated guesses about her physical and mental development. Her syndrome was only identified 10 years prior, so little data was available to support a true prognosis or growth path. In fact, some suggested our best option might be to place her in an institution. According to knowledge available at the time, she would likely be severely mentally impaired (IQ of <20), her verbal communication was in question, and she would likely never walk.
However, she was lucky enough to be born during the exploration of the genome project. The knowledge around her diagnosis and treatment has increased exponentially in the last 15 years. Using genomic and clinical data collected across the globe, her care team has mapped a clearer path for her development. Through intervention therapies, subject matter immersion and exposure to typical peer-models, my daughter now has an IQ of 87, loves to sing “Let it Go” at the top of her lungs in the shower and walks alone without the aid of assistive devices –though she will tell you she has “balance issues”. All of the credit is hers for beating the odds but none of it would be possible without someone along the way asking “what if?” then turning to data for the answer.
Parents, clinicians, and the everyday Joe have more access to data than ever before. Data discovery is not just for research rats and IT analysts. It is available in all aspects of our professional and personal lives, from your Kroger Plus card and Amazon purchase history to your personal health record and 23andMe DNA analysis. We all have the ability to ask the “what if’s” by trending our purchase patterns, relating them directly to our current health status and taking action as a result.
Introducing a self-service business intelligence (SSBI) program into your clinical data management strategy allows business and clinical users to answer their own “what if’s” as they arise. These people input the data AND they consume the data so they are the best resources to answer what is useful vs. what is noise.
Empowering your business and clinical consumers with SSBI is a quick and innovative way to promote real change in your organization. When implemented and governed correctly, users have an agile yet sophisticated avenue to explore the unknown. In turn, they gain the ability to recognize new insights on treatment protocols, trend clinic outcomes and identify cost containment methods for both patients and providers.
“What if’s” drive my everyday life, both professionally and personally. What if we introduce music and the arts early in the lifecycle for all children with mental and functional disabilities? What if we introduced sign language to 4-month-old babies with verbal disabilities? What if we introduce wearable devices into the clinician’s workflow? What if we implement a robust clinical data lake capable of data discovery on the fly? The possibilities are endless.