Skip to main content


Showing posts from July, 2017

Taking So What Data to Now What Data

In my years in data management, I was asked to download a lot of reports. And, I mean a lot. The reports ranged in the number of falls, to audits of restraints, to patients with heat-related illness, and to outcomes data on performance measures. Each time I was asked to run a report or analyze the data, of course, the end user had a reason...or theoretically had a reason for the data. They wanted to see the number of falls that had occurred, how many patients were put in restraints and for how long, how many patients had a heat-related illness, and what providers' outcomes data looked like on their performance measures. All the reports meant something and had some kind of explanation. In fact, we are taught to interpret the health care data and make it mean something. However, I will never forget the day that I was asked to pull multiple reports for a department. I had the reports, I had the explanations and analyses, and the Department Chair said to me, "So what?" That i

What's the Big Deal About Data?

In my previous positions, I often worked closely with data. The data would often reveal to those who could analyze, understand, and interpret the information what was truly going on in the hospital, throughout the organization as a whole, and even in the community. Working with those while reviewing data also showcased their levels of understanding about data. Their perception or grasp of the concepts or errors and willingness to share those concepts or errors became apparent very quickly. One of the data issues that I dealt with regularly was integrity of the data. Because so many fingers touched the data, it was not always pristine.  Imagine a patient presents to the emergency department. As soon as the patient enters, data is collected on that patient. Each time someone enters a patient's demographic information into a hospital system, for example, the information could be entered differently.  Next, imagine an intake specialist selecting the wrong Dr. Smith or Dr. Jones. Th

Bullying on College Campuses

MaryBeth walks down the hallway to class. A young man carrying his lunch, pushes by her and "accidentally" shoves her into the wall. His friends give her dirty looks and call her names. In class, they raise their hands asking questions about things she has posted on social media. They say things like, "Did you see that movie at the theater last night?" or "Did you know that dogs also are related to this topic. I had a dog named Biscuit once." That just happened to be the name of MaryBeth's dog. They manipulate her to say and do things that they want. The young man and his friends antagonize her until she gets angry. The whole time, unknown to MaryBeth, they have been walking around with their cell phones in their pockets, live streaming the whole incident and MaryBeth's reaction. When MaryBeth goes around town, strangers she barely knows say things like, "I hate it when someone pushes me into a wall," and "I saw the movie at the t

Why Do Bullies Bully?

It's the first month of school, and Billy, a seventh grader, has found himself in the principal's office already. One of his classmates tattled on him for repeatedly hitting a girl on top of the head with his math book. He is going to get that boy after this, he thought to himself.  The principal walks into the office.  He has learned about Six Sigma for public health and schools.  He has decided to try the "Five Why's" method for finding the root of the problem with Billy.  The principal starts his questioning. "Billy, why did you hit the girl over the head with your math book?" Billy laughed and said, "Because it was funny."  The principal is at his second why. "Billy, why did you think it was funny?" Billy shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know.  Probably because she screamed."  The principal was getting hopeful this method might work. "Billy, why did she scream?" Billy looked puzzled. "She screa