They say that “Knowledge is power.” At Voalte, we’re committed to empowering our customers with the information they need to make the most of their communication platform. Now that’s easier than ever with Voalte Insight, a new business intelligence solution that delivers meaningful data in easily accessible reports. Jason Amunwa, Voalte Product Manager, answers some questions about this powerful new tool.
Q: What problems did you set out to solve with Voalte Insight?
JA: In talking with numerous hospital staff across a variety of functions at our customers’ hospitals, we heard several recurring themes when it came to understanding clinical communication activity:
- Visibility: No one had a comprehensive picture of what was happening and what trends were emerging because data is often stuck in silos and hard to access.
- Friction in the reporting process: Many people described having to navigate convoluted and slow reporting processes that require writing SQL queries and interpreting huge raw log files by hand, as well as a big time commitment to build useful reports.
- Reactivity vs. proactivity: A common complaint was that Clinical Informaticists and leaders were reacting to workflow bottlenecks by inefficient trial and error, instead of anticipating problems and implementing focused solutions.
Q: There are many analytics tools out there. Why did you decide to build a new one?
JA: The vast majority of analytics tools don’t present data well – they’re cluttered, confusing and difficult to interpret quickly, which is not desirable in a fast-paced, high-stress environment with people’s health outcomes at stake. These tools tend to show data without context – the burden is on the user to make sense of what the data is telling them, rather than working on their behalf to unearth interesting points and relevant trends from their data. In addition, the data that can be used to produce this kind of information is typically scattered around the organization in multiple incompatible and proprietary silos.
By contrast, a unified pipeline and architecture offers a more efficient method of querying and learning from the data. By offering a tool that offers insights rather than data, we can help providers and caregivers make better decisions faster, and ultimately help improve the level of patient care at our customers’ hospitals.
Q: What’s the difference between data and “insights?”
JA: Data is simply a record of an event – a text message sent, a phone call placed or an alert received. An insight is made up of multiple pieces of data, presented in context with each other, and in a format that’s quickly incorporated into making a decision. For example:
Your car reports that you’re going 70 mph right now. You get a single data point, without context, such as where you are currently or which direction you are heading.
By contrast, an insight from your GPS tells you, “You’re going 70 mph on I-75 South. ETA 3:30 p.m.” Here, you get multiple data points, presented in context, and in a format that enables you to make a meaningful decision. (“OK, I have time to stop for a snack.”)
During our user research, the same needs and questions cropped up when it came to talking about clinical communication: Which units are using Voalte smartphones? Who is receiving too many alerts? How do different roles in the hospital communicate with each other? These are all highly impactful questions in the healthcare setting, and it typically takes those asking them weeks or months to answer. We designed Voalte Insight to close that gap significantly.
While many business intelligence tools bombard you with disconnected data points, Voalte Insight is all about context. With clearly labeled metrics, you can see if your healthcare organization’s alert volume is normal, track texting trends, and compare call volume and call rescue data, for example. By guiding your hospital toward clear, actionable answers, Voalte Insight lets you quickly address workflow breakdowns and implement changes that maximize the impact of your communication investment.
Q: Who is using Voalte Insight, and how are they using it?
JA: Kay Burke, MBA, BSN, RN, NE-BC, Chief Nursing Informatics Officer, and Kevin Spolini, MSN, RN, Director of Clinical Informatics at UCSF Health, spoke at the Voalte User Experience conference recently about implementing Voalte Insight. Kay referred to the DIKW model to explain why analytics tools are so important for the caregiver of the future, and the importance of moving from data to information to knowledge to wisdom.
Kevin explained that UCSF Health previously took a reactive rather than a proactive approach to triaging communication issues because they have been unaware of issues until they become a problem. He explained, “When a nurse says, ‘This phone is driving me crazy,’ we have to ask ourselves, ‘Who is affected, and how should we go about investigating the problem?’”
Now, with Voalte Insight, UCSF Health is working toward a “data-informed future,” which includes resolving issues quickly, comparing performance across units and buildings, and streamlining future expansions. Other health systems, such as Avera Health, Blessing Health System and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, are also rolling out Voalte Insight to monitor, analyze and optimize communication throughout their organizations.
Q: What do you see in the future for Voalte Insight and healthcare analytics in general?
JA: I see us focusing on a few areas:
- Expanding the sources of data we’re able to draw from to help decision makers see their organizations’ activity more clearly. For example, tying events to specific locations and rooms in the hospital building, or correlating HCAHPS scores to changes in communication workflows.
- Leveraging the centralized nature of Voalte Insight to offer our customers industry information, such as benchmarks for alert response times.
- Continuing to refine the way we present data to users to maximize the speed with which they’re able to make decisions and take action.
Features like this will give hospitals an unprecedented ability to diagnose areas of need, set meaningful communication goals, and monitor their performance against those goals, all within one reporting tool. As healthcare leaders gain power from knowledge, I expect to see a rapid evolution in the way these insights are delivered, moving from today’s graphic representations toward more streamlined and automated data analysis that explains what’s happening to users in plain language and elicits quick, proactive action.