Harnessing Data’s Power to Improve Soft Skills and Redefine Patient Care
When looking at a patient's journey in a healthcare setting, you are going to come across an unbelievable amount of data. Healthcare environments have an overwhelming amount of data from many different sources, including operational, business, and even clinical perspectives. But how can we best use these precious resources to learn about, drive, and continuously improve the patient experience?
Regardless of industry, analytics platforms can play a central role in improving operations and stakeholder collaboration. In healthcare, data can bring a multidisciplinary team together to create a unified vision of the patient experience. With that vision, each person knows their role in improving the patient's journey through better care.
Founded 97 years ago, Grupo Fleury is one of Brazil's largest and most respected medical health organizations. We focus on medical diagnostics, laboratory analysis, and diagnostic imaging, and we were one of the first laboratories in Latin America to transmit test results online and use barcodes on collection tubes to ensure process safety.
With 13,500 employees and an additional 3,200 doctors across more than 280 service units in 10 Brazilian states and the Federal District, Grupo Fleury offers one of the most complete solutions in diagnostic medicine in the country. This integrated and preventative health system sets Grupo Fleury apart, allowing us to deliver coordinated, patient-centered care while pushing the boundaries in healthcare technology and innovation.
Decreased Data Complexity for the End User
We've always had access to data. The challenge was to find a way to get it into the hands of frontline teams to make better, faster decisions about patient care. We used tools like Excel, SQL, and internal systems developed by corporate teams, but they weren't powerful enough for our volume and diversity of information. To give you just one example: We perform more than 3,500 different medical tests, each generating a report with many fields, each field containing clinical information that may be important. We also have an additional data load related to the operational process, such as the date and time of each step, the collaborator responsible for the test, and the instrument data. We couldn't make important correlations between these fields using our previous tools at the pace and complexity we envisioned for our future.
Specialized healthcare teams need access to easy-to-use BI tools and workflows that simplify complex data analysis. Understanding from the onset what data needs to be studied is critical to designing an elegant data experience for our technicians, which in turn will provide insights for targeted care for patients. This is the foundation of our quality and safety culture, and is why we prefer the term Quality Intelligence. For us, it is all about improving the quality of services provided to our patients. As our QI team works with medical, technical and new businesses’ executive board teams, a robust BI tool like Qlik allows us to connect the medical and technical data relevant to quality and safety management.
We started our selection process for a new analytics platform as a mature team with strong KPIs and quality control systems. This maturity was significant because we went into the process prepared with a massive list of questions and expectations of any new solution. We wanted something that would make us better, reinforcing some of our existing skills and improving others. We created a project team including experts in IT, medical and technical data analytics, and clinical analysis to evaluate the solutions based on a matrix of technical, medical, and commercial aspects.
But most important in our analysis was the notion of health literacy. The user experience had to be flexible. Regardless of their position, navigating the tool should be easy enough for any medical or technical staff member to feel comfortable in the driver's seat. They are ultimately the protagonists of this story, since they are the ones using data insights to improve the patient experience.
With our questions and evaluation matrix in hand, we selected a few KPIs to test and evaluate different platforms through a proof of concept.
A Flexible Solution and an Impactful Partner
Qlik Sense was the best tool for all of the items in our evaluation matrix, especially the UX. We have an extraordinary diagnostic team with a lot of specializations, including MSc, PhDs, and MBAs. They want to spend as little time as possible deciphering the data and more time acting on it. The flexibility of Qlik Sense made it an excellent match for us, especially in terms of graphics, reports, and automated notifications through NPrinting that make people aware of critical new information. The diagnostic team understands what they need to know within a few minutes versus navigating through the data for long periods.
Our partner in all this was Inteligência de Negócios, Brazil's first Qlik reseller, who has assisted partners across the country and throughout Latin America. As a nearly century-old company, we weren't looking for someone to just sell us a product, but a co-creator who would have a long-term impact on mutual growth.
Qlik Saves Time and Helps Us Put Hard Numbers to Soft Skills
Our dashboards focus on quality, measuring patient safety, operational efficiency, epidemiological indicators, pride indicators, technical costs, and other markers. Our journey from the start of our search for a QI platform through our lengthy selection process through the final implementation of Qlik took two years to complete, and our patience has been rewarded.
After this change, we automated QI reporting processes: We reduced data collection time by 97% and saved 100 hours per month for the QI team. That saved time means these highly skilled specialists on the QI team can do other things that provide more value for the company.
The real beneficiaries, though, are our internal clients, the physicians and other members of our diagnostic team who can easily navigate and understand the data in front of them. Instead of waiting for the next monthly report, the diagnostic team now has up-to-the-minute information. That matters when you provide comprehensive medical care across Brazil, 24/7.
We have several easily measured KPIs for quality and safety, but it's also essential to develop KPIs to measure soft skills, so we have developed a portfolio of pride indicators. These include metrics like the number of years people have worked at Grupo Fleury (it's typical for people to have been with us for 20 or 30 years), the number of quality improvement reports (QIR) registered, ESG impacts for QIR, and the number of sample re-collections avoided. Saving these samples means a patient doesn't need to have more blood taken for further tests, so people can take pride in that improved experience.
These soft skills also impact patient care. We need the person who works with biological samples to consider the patient and patient expectations, even if they will likely never meet face to face. Our pride indicators demonstrate to each team member their value and contribution to the patient care journey. It's not about turning some KPI from yellow to green, it's about caring about health and quality improvement cycles. We are all part of patient safety and experience.
Our dashboards also help with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives, tracking things like paper and plastic reduction and improved use of renewable resources. People love these indicators, and many teams will start their day by reviewing these dashboards. It gives them energy and inspiration and brings another level of emotional intelligence to our work.
As We Continue Adapting to New Needs, We Hope to Inspire Others in Healthcare
As organizations transform large amounts of raw data into KPIs, this can generate an extensive portfolio of indicators, in turn increasing the complexity of management. To ensure we use the best data possible, we use Simon Sinek's Golden Circle concept to revisit our data processes and review their relevance periodically. Briefly, the Golden Circle systematizes a new way of thinking and acting by asking three key questions. One: Why do you do what you do? Two: How do you do what you do? And three: What do you do?
In applying the Golden Circle concept to our indicator review, we revised these questions slightly:
- What is the purpose of this indicator?
- How do we perform the analysis?
- What is done with the information analyzed?
Through this review process, we decide whether an indicator should be maintained, reformulated, or suspended. Of the total indicators at our latest review, we reformulated 47%, suspended 35%, and kept only 18% unchanged. This process is how we continue to innovate alongside Grupo Fleury's needs.
The QI team never loses sight of why this matters. We use data to maintain the "care" in healthcare. Better, faster, more efficient treatment leads to better outcomes, more accessible care, and improved quality of life for patients. But this isn't just for us at Grupo Fleury. We share our journey through scientific papers to inspire others in the healthcare field.
We learn from peers all over the world, but we feel that it is important to share knowledge regarding our healthcare system and innovations in lab quality management. We want to inspire others with our learning journey because we feel our extraordinary teams are amazing at patient experience and quality improvement stories. Let’s teach health literacy and then data literacy; let’s embrace sense and sensibility at lab management. Let’s cherish the return on culture (ROC). Let’s ROC the lab!
I’d like to acknowledge Quality Intelligence, IT (Paulo Mendes, Cintia Hamakamada, Cache and SI teams, and others), HR (Ana Carolina Tanaka, Leticia Sanchez, and others), and Clinical Analysis tech med staff from Grupo Fleury for being part of this story. We ROC the lab!!!