Data analysis has become an integral part of quality management across all industries including hospitals. However,data analysis is only as good as the data that is available. And poor data is one of the key reasons why the most detailed analysis does not provide the right insights for many hospitals.

Hospitals in India where datacollection is still in nascent stagesoften face  inefficient use of information due to either incomplete or incorrect data. Incorrect data is sometimes due to the lack of knowledge of the person collecting the data and at times also due to deliberate underreporting. In addition to this,  hospitals in India do not have benchmarks from similar organisations within the country. Apart from the aforementioned poor data collection systems within hospitals, one key reason for this lack of regional benchmark is due to lack of sharing of data among hospitals. This means hospitals in the country are reliant on international benchmarks which may not be the right yardstick to measure performance,  considering that these hospitals are operating in very vastly different set-ups with varying efficiency of skill sets.

To counter these challenges, hospitals individually and collectively have to work towards developing an open culture of reporting, aided with elaborate planning, training and execution of data collection processes. Hospitals need to encourage departments to share the facts rather than share data that the leadership would consider ideal. Data revealing poor processes should not be used to penalise departments, rather it should be used constructively in bringing positive changes. End users will tamper with data only if they are associated with negative consequences. Removing any form of penalty will encourage transparent reporting.

As we move toward a data driven future, hospitals have to align themselves towards this shift to grow and improve at the pace of some other industries such as automobiles & manufacturing. A collective push in the direction of a robust data collection will help us all gain insights on the problems in our systems and implement changes.

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