• Divya Malhotra

What about good old-fashioned Descriptive Analytics?

Today's healthcare organization is moving towards complex analytical goals such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning . But no one talks about Descriptive Analytics, the simple but tough task of looking at historical data to gather insights from what happened. But in the hype of fancy analytical tools, healthcare organizations ignore the good old fashioned dashboards and scorecards that provide a good analysis of what already happened.


While there is no denying using advanced technologies and analytical techniques to predict performance and outcomes are invaluable but simple scorecards and dashboards with historical data, are easy-to-use, cost effective to design and simple enough to disseminate across various stakeholder groups. Moreover, in my opinion, simple data visualizations are sometimes more powerful in communicating insights and motivating action needed for change. Yet, these are the least talked about in the healthcare industry.


Below is a simple 5 step process to get started with implementing and hard-wiring your organization with simple descriptive analytics :

1. Identify a few areas of opportunity. Pick no more than 3 problems or areas of opportunities you need to look at. Keep it aligned with the overall strategic plan of the organization. As a general gauge, any opportunity to enhance efficiency, increase revenue or reduce cost is worth tracking and data mining.

2. Make it your top priority. Do what it takes to gather, cleanse and prep the data available. Use your Analytics team or Information Services team to give you data the way you want it.

3. Use a good data visualization tool. There are so many tools in the market but choosing a simple-to-implement tool ensures the process becomes faster. I recommend using a tool that is intuitive, has ability to connect to a host of data formats and sources and is easy to disseminate across the organization.

4. Communicate Communicate Communicate. Make sure you communicate up and down the chain of command to ensure people know you are formalizing the process of looking at last month or last week's data. Setting up a regular meeting with key team members to discuss the data and drive results is a good idea.

5. Review and Share. Some leaders tend to ignore positive data points and only focus on negative trends. Don't fall into that trap. Keep your regular meetings with your team and let them know you value their insight. But make sure to take action on problems. It is important to have leadership support and lead analytics efforts. Otherwise, a lot of resources, time and energy are lost and employees are demoralized.


Descriptive Analytics can be very powerful when the culture of sharing data and acting on insights gleaned from the data is pervasive in an organization.