Why Measuring Healthcare Initiatives In Excel Is Holding You Back

Read about the telltale signs that you’ve outgrown Excel to measure your healthcare initiatives, and how two organizations found a different solution.

Director & Rochesterian


We like Excel. As we dive into this topic, we want to be clear that we’re not arguing for a complete ban of Excel. It is a great tool for those just starting to track and measure healthcare initiatives because it’s flexible, familiar, and easily accessible. In fact, we’ve written articles like this one and this one about how you can use Excel to manage different elements of your strategy. There is a caveat, though...

As your organization matures and solidifies how it wants to measure healthcare initiatives, relying on Excel can lead to some problems. Keep reading to learn more about these issues and the solutions you can use instead to more effectively measure and manage your strategic initiatives.

As your organization matures and solidifies how it wants to measure healthcare initiatives, relying on Excel can lead to some problems. Click To Tweet

Problems With Measuring Healthcare Initiatives Using Excel

In general, Excel is designed more to aggregate data than manage projects or execute strategy. If you’ve been using Excel to track and measure your healthcare initiatives for more than a year, you’ve likely outgrown the application. Here are some telltale signs that Excel is holding you back:

  • Version control issues: Files are saved to the wrong location and/or duplicated when updates are made, resulting in multiple versions of the “master” file. With Excel defaulting to “always save,” you can overwrite master templates that you wish you had.
  • Data errors: As more contributors begin accessing your Excel files, chances increase that formulas and references will be accidentally broken and corrupt the information. Other data errors can occur when updates are made to the wrong cell or sheet. You also don’t have any ability in Excel to track changes and who made them—if something goes wrong, it’s hard to revert to the original file.
  • Security weaknesses: Particularly in the healthcare industry, it’s critical to secure data and protect it per federal regulations. Excel’s version of locking sheets and sections of sheets is clunky and hard to work. The program was not designed to offer a robust data security model.
  • Reporting problems: If you’re reading this article, chances are it’s your job to create reports. Pulling all your spreadsheets together to create a neat summary report for executives or other stakeholders can be a massive, nearly impossible job. It requires a lot of manual effort and can take hours of time.

Read more: 39 Clues You’ve Outgrown Excel And PowerPoint For Reporting

  • Scalability & maintenance issues: Once you have your healthcare initiatives built out with formulas and references, it’s difficult to add other projects over time. For example, if you’re using Excel to track and measure your 2019 healthcare initiatives, what happens in 2020? Do you add a new workbook with its own set of initiatives and metrics? Rebuild all the references? It’s also important to consider what happens when a project is completed. Do you delete the file? Save the file and perhaps end up with a huge spreadsheet containing old data? As the years go by, new projects will be initiated and old projects completed. Managing this cycle of data efficiently is challenging with Excel, as is overall spreadsheet maintenance.

Real-World Solutions With Strategy Management Software

If the problems above are hitting close to home, your next move is to upgrade from Excel to a more sophisticated strategy management tool like ClearPoint. Our software tracks, measures, and manages healthcare initiatives. To help illustrate the point, here are two different organizations that have used strategy software for their quality initiatives in healthcare (and more).

Healthcare Client X

This organization’s strategic plan is almost entirely initiative-based. Prior to ClearPoint, Client X was using Excel and experiencing all the problems listed above—they knew they needed a more mature solution. We worked closely with them to move all their projects and initiatives from Excel files into ClearPoint, mirroring the structure and format the client wanted.

Client X saw immediate benefits from moving out of Excel. With the software, users could clearly show how projects align with healthcare initiatives and goals, and produce summary reports and briefing books with just a few clicks. Also, Client X was able to show the status of measures and projects with Red Amber Green (RAG) indicators. This has been particularly helpful for providing at-a-glance overviews, especially when paired with other visual aids like pie charts to illustrate the percentage of projects with red, yellow, and green indicators. Plus, stakeholders can drill down into each measure to get more information—it’s all clickable for additional details.

Are your stakeholders getting the right information? Browse this library of 108 healthcare metrics and KPIs to see if any could improve your reporting.

Healthcare Client Y

Client Y has a fairly traditional strategic plan with goals, initiatives, and measures. This healthcare organization was using a variety of Excel spreadsheets and needed an integrated system to manage their strategy. After consulting with them, we realized their initiatives and measures were solidified to the point that ClearPoint’s software would be a good fit. Through the onboarding process, we helped Client Y get their strategic plan set up properly in ClearPoint and then refined their reporting over the next year or so.

The client has seen such dramatic improvements on the strategic projects and initiatives they were tracking in ClearPoint that they now are working to get all organization-wide (operational) projects into the software. This will allow everything to be managed in one central location, as well as give visibility into how operational initiatives ladder up into the strategy.

Top Takeaways

To summarize, Excel could be a perfect fit...depending on your healthcare organization’s stage of growth. But if you’ve been having trouble managing and measuring your healthcare initiatives in Excel, it might be time to move into a strategy management software. The benefits are huge:

  • It helps create better reports in less time. (It’s a click of a button—really.)
  • It centralizes all information across the organization, serving as a single hub for your goals, initiatives, measures, reports, etc.
  • It helps foster team collaboration and engagement.
  • It keeps your data more secure.
  • It decreases the time spent on managing details and gives you more time to discuss progress.

Whether you’re using Excel now or are still defining your healthcare quality initiatives, the ClearPoint team will work with you to understand your processes. We’ll help set up your strategic plan and initiatives in our system, so you can improve your tracking and measurements without sacrificing flexibility and customization. Get a free tour to see how it works.

Why Measuring Healthcare Initiatives In Excel Is Holding You Back