Leveraging Data for Healthcare HR Success

Senior Director of Marketing

Healthcare organizations are ramping up their use of data technology. In fact, 92% of healthcare executives agree that predictive analytics is critical to future growth. In a field where competition for qualified talent is fierce, HR data can provide a vital glimpse into how your people processes impact employee experience and engagement.

You can track dozens of HR metrics at your organization. Which should you prioritize to make the best use of your people and process data? "Connect the dots between quality, safety, delivery, cost and engagement," says Mary Alida Brisk, Interim Chief HR Officer at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. "Understanding the interdependency of those major themes is incredibly important."

Here's how to leverage HR data to foster success at your healthcare organization.

Define Your Purpose

First, define your priorities. These might come from your organization's mission and strategic goals. "For us, it's to make sure that our workforce feels safe and cared for, is developing professionally and operating at the top of their license," Brisk says. "There are a million and one questions you can ask, but you need to ask the bigger question first."

Let data inform your HR strategy, and be willing to make changes based on what it tells you. Are your talent gaps the result of growth, for instance, or is the data telling you something else? Your metrics may signal that it's time to reassess how you're using your resources.

"If you're investing more money in recruiters or outside staffing firms, but the metrics tell you that you have a retention problem, you need to spend less money there and put more money into programs like leadership development and career progression," says Ashley Ridgeway-Washington, Interim Vice President of HR at CHRISTUS Health. Leverage data to support decision-making as you move forward.

Prioritize Data Sets to Collect

Different stakeholders at your organization need to know different data points, Brisk says. At the executive level, share data regarding:

  • Leadership turnover, which could signal organizational instability
  • Engagement, via annual and pulse surveys
  • Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB)

When measuring DEIB, gather more than just hard data on gender, race, ethnicity and other factors. Use surveys to get a sense of whether minority employees feel that inclusion and belonging are present.

At the operations level, collect data regarding:

  • Turnover, especially data from exit interviews
  • Time to fill 
  • Talent and performance reviews at the departmental level
  • COVID-19 exposure and leave/quarantine data for contact tracing, staffing and scheduling

Brisk recommends reading "Measuring ROI in Healthcare" as a primer on using data in a healthcare system.

Invest in Analytics

Hard data by itself can be misinterpreted, or we can impose our biases on it. If we have a presupposition for why turnover is so high, for example, it's easy for raw data to "confirm" our suspicions. But that might not be the real story. "We have the data," Ridgeway-Washington says. "It's the ability to aggregate that data in a way that tells the story and informs strategy that is missing." Look for trends to get to the bigger picture.

Invest in data analysts to help expose the story hidden in the numbers. Investing in data analytics is more crucial now than ever before. Traditional healthcare systems are competing with technology giants moving into the healthcare space, Ridgeway-Washington points out. Those companies’ cutting-edge data technology supports increased efficiency, which is attractive to patient-consumers and prospective employees. “Those are huge disruptors,” she says. “Part of sound metrics in the healthcare space is casting the net wider and starting to pick up data that we can use and learn from in nontraditional healthcare spaces.”

The numbers at your organization tell a story, and it's incumbent on healthcare HR teams to find out what that story says. Unlock the secrets contained in your binary code to increase efficiency, create a better employee experience, and ultimately improve patient outcomes at your organization.

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