It’s understandable. Tons of information flows into health systems across different timelines and in different formats, ranging from medical records and departmental data to operational and financial reporting. To successfully develop and execute a strategic plan, healthcare executives desperately need a way to distill and digest all this data. Gaining clarity on what this information means, including the ability to zero in on details and context, is critical to an executive’s ability to make educated, smart decisions.
The solution to the problem of information overload in hospitals is a healthcare dashboard. And there’s more than one type—keep reading. We’ll walk you through some of the most useful dashboards for your healthcare organization.
While there are many different healthcare dashboards, each is an analytical, comprehensive, and dynamic tool that provides a condensed, visual report of key performance indicators (KPIs). Presenting metrics in such a manner makes it easier to understand progress and challenges, and gives a high-level snapshot of what’s going on in your facility.
Healthcare dashboards aren’t as publicly visible as dashboards in other industries because of the need to protect patient information. But that doesn’t mean your healthcare organization should avoid them—quite the opposite. Executives, managers, and clinicians within hospitals and health systems rely on dashboards to provide critical information to inform data-driven decisions, without sacrificing data privacy.
Healthcare dashboards can be used for a variety of purposes, including strategy analysis and execution, performance reviews, performance improvement, data comprehension, and scope opportunity. But why is this format better than other data visualizations? Here are three primary benefits of dashboards in healthcare:
A healthcare dashboard summarizes and visualizes data in a way that makes it easy to understand what’s important and what needs immediate attention. It shows organizational and departmental performance at a glance. From there, executives can make quick analyses and take action with confidence, backed by data. For example, a cardiac unit’s dashboard might include staffing numbers and nurse-to-patient ratio—if that ratio is low, executives will understand why this unit is underperforming.
Providing a high-level, graphic view of a facility’s numbers helps the leadership team spot trends. A dashboard shows if a KPI is tracking above or below its benchmark over time. Executives can make informed predictions and quickly adjust the strategy or goals when needed.
Another benefit of dashboards in healthcare is they display an organization’s most essential data. Executives can drill down into any KPI to get more information, but everything is rolled up into high-level goals. This helps establish priorities because you can see how the minute data affects the larger (more important) goals. For example, a dashboard might clearly show abnormally high costs for a certain department. When they do a deep dive on the metrics, they discover that a vendor is overcharging for blankets; the priority then becomes finding a new supplier.
Depending on your organization’s focus, one of these dashboards may be more critical to your strategic decision-making than the others. But the more likely scenario is that you’ll need all four.
This type of dashboard is ideal for presenting high-level performance and benchmarking data to the executive team. It condenses large data sets like financial metrics, admission numbers, and departmental performance. The healthcare organization dashboard is geared for executives who are shaping the facility’s strategy and need to see which decisions will have the most impact. This kind of dashboard might also link strategic projects to your KPIs and goals.
Aptly named, this dashboard captures the patient experience, including satisfaction rates, wait times, ease of stay ratings, etc. It helps organizations identify strengths and weaknesses related to patient services, as well as evaluate performance compared to industry standards. Using tools like surveys to inform patient perception dashboards, healthcare facilities can contextualize and support qualitative feedback. Having this information widely visible to healthcare workings will be a continual reminder of the importance of keeping the patient and families involved in the process of providing care.
Think of a nurse manager reporting to an administrator about what’s happening on their floor—that’s when a clinician dashboard is needed. These dashboards are used by doctors, nurses, and PAs to track staffing, patient-per-clinician ratios, specialty types, nurse practitioner and aide work hours, etc.
Clinician dashboards give a clear view of how a department is handling its demands, with the ability to see both macro and micro data. As a macro example, a health network might track its clinicians by geography. A dashboard showing that all cardiologists are located in the northeastern U.S. while most cardiac patients are in the Southwest, surfaces an issue that needs to be addressed. At a micro level, organizations can examine individual employees, including things like clinician communication, prescriptions, referrals, patient satisfaction, performance, revenues, costs, etc.
Similar to universities, many hospitals rely on donations. Aside from the obvious tax benefit, hospitals want to position themselves as industry leaders and medical pioneers to attract and merit charitable gifts. Donations dashboards track incoming funds, major donors, trends in giving, and donation directives. Hospitals can use these dashboards to make financial projections, set budgets, and even improve fundraising performance.
While many hospitals keep their data close to the vest to protect patient privacy, we were able to find two great dashboard examples in healthcare that your facility can learn from:
VCUHS implemented a clinician safety dashboard to address issues of preventable medical errors. In short order, the dashboard proved its worth by helping the health system meet its goal of having zero events of preventable harm. It also helped improve other metrics, such as vaccine administrations, and infection and fall rates. The dashboard was successfully adopted by nurses, care partners, and physicians, reducing their reliance on memory by providing a wealth of information in a central location.
Rush uses a surgery outcomes dashboard. Similar to the clinician dashboard, this tool highlights departmental operations to evaluate performance. Looking at the dashboard, it’s easy to see how Rush benchmarks against other providers and the entire industry. This provides valuable perspective—numbers without context can mean very little.
While there’s no end-all, be-all healthcare dashboard template, there are common types of dashboards your facility can put into play to aid strategic decision-making. As long as your dashboards aid in comprehension and analysis of the big data flowing through your system, you’re headed in the right direction.