The classic Simpsons clip from above is a typically outrageous Simpsons example of what can happen when people make decisions based on vague and correlative data, instead of specific measures with clear causative relationships. I always liked using this example in hospital-based projects as a reason why meaningful data is so important when making decisions regarding patients. This is especially pertinent for nurses, who are still sometimes expected to proceed with patient care decisions without the data necessary to drive better decision making.
This great article from the Cleveland Clinic (found here) highlights the benefits that come from nurses owning specific data, and then being educated and empowered to use that data in their work with patients. Nurses at the Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest hospital were enabled to make confident decisions based on relevant and timely data points that they took ownership of. No longer did they have to rely on non-specific “data” passed down from up top, quoted in the article as “high level messages – messages like ‘too many people fall, and we should do better with falls.'” By delving into specific data that revealed causative relationships between certain patient/diagnoses data and quality outcomes, the Cleveland Clinic has improved in all eight tested quality outcomes over a three year period.
Data thrown at any clinician, without explanation or ownership, doesn’t do anyone any good (including and especially the patients). But as demonstrated by the Cleveland Clinic, when clinicians are empowered to own and utilize specific measures, they can accomplish great strides in quality and patient care. As a nurse, I hope your organization is working on this type of data analysis, enabling you to utilize this knowledge on a day-to-day basis. After all, none of us want to buy the Anti-Tiger rock if there weren’t any tigers in the first place.