Information Governance: Oil for the Performance Management Engine

We use information largely for a few key things – we use it to drive our processes, we use it to measure performance, we use it to envision the future, and we use it to show compliance. As Healthcare continues to transform and demand accurate measurement of performance, data engines are being fired up to supply information and analytics to answer the call.

Whether your organization chooses traditional tools or is jumping into the water with Big Data, these data engines and the associated organizational development represent significant investments. This, for many organizations, is on the heels of IT transformation and systems conversions in a quest to eliminate IT inefficiency. With no respite, performance management mandates and changes to reimbursement soon to come under MACRA, we are working on changing these engines indeed as we build them.

But what of the outputs? These engines which drive our data factories create reports, analytics, and KPIs that we use to make decisions about investment, reward, and allocations of resources for the betterment of our patients, our institutions, and our communities. As we increasingly move to a pay-for-performance model in healthcare, the very definitions of ethical and effective performance measures challenge all of us. But that is a problem we can evolve to solve.

On this path, we all engage with the issues of data quality, measurement fairness, data access, and investment prioritization. As a performance-managed future becomes clearer to us we find that slow, poor quality data creates blurry measures. Or worse, it created plausible deniability, the rust that will degrade investments in the performance management machine. As partners and participants soon learn, gaps in the system make way for gaining advantage – a tempting opportunity when business viability is on the line. When facts are in doubt it can be challenging to tell the difference between an honest mistake and someone gaming the system. The performance management system itself will punish the innocent and let the guilty go free – eroding trust with everyone who is trying to gain the improvements in quality and efficiency needed to keep our healthcare system viable. It’s like pouring sand in the engine instead of oil.

Data Governance, the action of intentionally managing and stewarding information assets and capabilities, is the lubricant needed to make sure that your performance management engine stays on the road. How does it work? By bringing stakeholders together in a public forum, a dialog is encouraged that ensures that misalignment between information assets and capabilities and what is expected of them are understood, measured, and either corrected or adjusted for. In the way the Facilities Management tracks gaps in space and employee growth, Data Management needs input and regular communication across the organization to prioritize, communicate, and deploy solutions that support the clinical and financial strategies of the system.

Sustainable Data Governance is a critical piece of any performance management engine. In subsequent entries, we will identify the elements of Sustainable Data Governance, how to embrace them, and how to use them to drive value and predictability from your investments in information assets and capabilities.