1. Section Editor(s): Raso, Rosanne MS, RN, NEA-BC

Article Content

Last year, we talked about the things we do that matter besides what we measure, lamenting how metrics rule the workplace. Well, that hasn't changed. We're often awash in a sea of data-sometimes drowning in it-and that may be the pleasant news compared with those of us who can't get the data we need. We started the new millennium with the forecast of "big data" changing our lives. Has bigger been better for you?

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Are you getting a multitude of daily e-mails with huge attachments of unanalyzed data? Or receiving reports with old data that have lost their meaningfulness? How about being expected to know and act on data that are buried 10 clicks deep or that you have no idea how to find? Another data nightmare comes from the manual acquisition process that's fraught with human error. Or being confused by the same data points with different definitions, depending on the data source and whose report you have. I could go on, but you get the picture. This is the "ugly."


The "bad" is that we're data rich but information poor, as the pundits say, a syndrome described in management for many years. Data that can't be turned into information just aren't useful. Ideally, you aren't the one trying to analyze and get to the information; you're the one receiving the ready-to-use report. In this case, do-it-yourself isn't only time-consuming, but it may also lead to different conclusions or complete disregard of the data.


So, where's the "good"? As one of my trusted colleagues says, it's when you have timely, relevant, and actionable data pushed to you, reflecting current status and priorities, which immediately allows you to make decisions or draw conclusions. Don't you love opening a report that lands in your inbox and immediately seeing what you need to know? It's a management tool that alerts you and your staff members whether to celebrate, follow-up, or jump into corrective action without delay.


True and valid data are also imperative for evaluating results and telling a compelling story. This is relevant in our work environments, when preparing for surveys, meeting standards, and even writing articles for this journal. It's especially important in research, evidence-based practice, and quality improvement. Evidence-based management relies on data-driven decision making. Providing empirical outcomes for Magnet(R) sources of evidence is purely a graph with pre- and postintervention scores. We obviously can't live without data-big and small.


Clinical data from our electronic health records (EHRs) are important in day-to-day patient management, such as real-time triggering for early warning scores; bigger perspectives of quality management for discrete patient groups; or even a broader look at population health. Then, of course, there are Meaningful Use criteria for our EHRs, Core Measure requirements for The Joint Commission, and Clinical Quality Measures for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Uh-oh, we were talking about the good and now we've started descending into the overwhelming...again.


So, let's embrace the good in our data, working with our organizations to ensure that information is timely, relevant, and actionable when we receive it, when we create it, and when we contribute to it. It's too important to be mired in the bad and the ugly. No matter where you lead in the continuum of care, effective use of data is critical to your success in driving outcomes.



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