November 22

Shift Your Paradigm To Data-Driven Decision Making for Better Insights and Outcomes in Healthcare Supply Chain


It’s my guess that most healthcare supply chain departments are utilizing their data to track their spend, monitor their pricing, and control their inventory levels; however, this is the extent of their data-driven decision making for better insights and outcomes. Why not use your data, statistics, and analytics more extensively to drive your decisions and actions in areas like supply utilization, labor cost, quality, productivity, and performance? All it takes is the right tools, talent, and mindset to do so.

The Right Tools Can Make The Difference in Healthcare Supply Chain

One of the big impediments with making data-driven decisions is not having the right tools to make your decisions. Unfortunately, we as an industry have become so enamored with spreadsheets that we can’t imagine that there isn’t a better and easier way to store, manage, and manipulate our data. More importantly, spreadsheets have the following downsides:

  • They Still Blow Up: Even with the newer upgrades and expanded capabilities that you have with spreadsheets, they can still blow up and corrupt from time to time. Plus, there is the problem of only having so many rows of data in a tab which is limiting with all the healthcare supply chain data that would need to be loaded into them.
  • Susceptible to Errors: Instead of having an automated process to enter, clean, and audit your data, a spreadsheet needs to have your data manually entered without validation to spot or correct errors. This can make your data worthless when undetected errors seep into your datasets.
  • Lack of Collaboration: Given that spreadsheets are a single file, only one person can assess and edit data at a time. This eliminates the opportunity to share your data in real-time with colleagues that need to collaborate with you on projects.
  • Too Time Consuming: Researchers at Ventana indicate that spreadsheet users spend on average 12-18 hours per month updating, revising, consolidating, modifying, and correcting spreadsheets. Multiply this number by the number of your staff employing spreadsheets for their work and you have a metric for how much time your staff is needlessly spending using this manual tool.
  • Data Is Not Updated In Real-Time: I’m sure you are aware that spreadsheets don’t update in real-time, they must be manually updated to be accurate. This delay in updates can cause decisions to be made on outdated information.
  • Change Of Data Being Deleted or Lost: If your spreadsheets aren’t backed up frequently, it is possible to delete or lose data that isn’t recoverable. However, if you use a database that is housed centrally or in the cloud you can be assured that your data is safe, secure, and accessible to all involved parties.

Although spreadsheets are easy to learn, store, and retrieve, we have found through our own extensive experience that spreadsheets aren’t the right data tool for large complex data manipulation that we would recommend to healthcare supply chain professionals. It is much better to buy, rent, or build a variety of databases to meet your exact requirements.

The Right Talent Can Make The Difference in Healthcare Supply Chain

You don’t need to be a data scientist to be a competent data analyst, but you do need to be inquisitive, results-oriented, gather and cleanse data from multiple sources, and identify and interpret trends in your data. Specifically, your data analyst should be able to:

  • Perform data cleaning and preparation
  • Perform data analysis and exploration
  • Have extensive statistical knowledge
  • Create data visualizations
  • Create dashboards and reports
  • Write and communicate effectively
  • Have domain knowledge
  • Have problem solving skills

A degree in science, mathematics, or related fields is preferred, but not absolutely necessary, since some of the best data analysts we know have gained their knowledge on the job with extensive training in statistics, SKL, and programming over many years. Most importantly, these individuals need to be open-minded.

The Right Mindset Can Make The Difference in Healthcare Supply Chain

Too often, we have observed or have met data analysts who are territorial. They are guarded or defensive about their duties, turf, and processes. This problem leads to fighting the introduction of new ideas, processes, and techniques that are needed for your data analyst to be efficient, effective, and progressive as opposed to having the right mindset or attitude that seeks out good ideas, processes, and techniques no matter where they come from – internally or externally.

Data-Driven Decision Making Requires Cultural Change

To summarize, shifting your paradigm to data-driven decision making for better outcomes and insights should be the goal for every healthcare supply chain professional. But first, data-driven decision making requires a cultural change requiring the right tools, talent, and mindset to be truly successful. So, don’t be shortchanged on any of these components of data-driven decision making or you will fall short of your desired results.

Sources: and

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analytics, data, database, databases, healthcare supply chain, Healthcare Value Analysis, hospital supply chain, Hospital Value Analysis, statistics, supply chain

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