How Nonprofit Healthcare Organizations Can Use Technology to Reach Data Maturity

Data maturity, a state where organizational leaders use data to drive decision-making, is no longer a goal exclusive to the corporate world. In the context of nonprofit healthcare organizations, data maturity refers to the ability to effectively collect, manage, and analyze data to improve patient care, operational efficiency, and resource allocation. Many nonprofit healthcare organizations are now pursuing this, understanding that it can lead to these benefits.

However, many healthcare boards are at an earlier stage of data maturity than they would like. They often struggle with getting the right data to improve fundraising, measure impact, and reach peak efficiency. This can be due to a lack of resources, expertise, or the complexity of data management systems.

It isn’t. Unlocking and using data to drive success is achievable, as one healthcare organization discovered when it wanted to improve the patient experience.

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Memorial Health has leveraged data and tools to optimize patient flow across its six hospitals and has also used advanced AI algorithms for patient monitoring.

Jeff Sturman, the Chief Digital Officer of Memorial Health, says, “We’re looking at digital tools as a strategy more than ever before and thinking about data differently than before. We’re all dealing with labor shortages; we’re all dealing with patient flow efficiency, and we’re all dealing with margins being a percent or point here or there at best. So, we have to get smarter about how we do things. From a productivity standpoint, we are looking at tools to help us get more efficient.”

So how can boards use data — and technology tools to unlock it — to drive success? Technology, particularly data analytics and AI, plays a crucial role in this process. It can help organizations collect, manage, and analyze data more effectively, leading to better decision-making and improved outcomes.

Technology partnerships in data-driven decision-making

These partnerships can provide access to advanced technologies, expertise, and resources that may not be available in-house, thereby accelerating the journey toward data maturity and improving patient care and operational efficiency.

One inspirational example is Biokind Analytics, which a student at Rice University started. An early interest in Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses led Alex Han to use analytics to support healthcare nonprofits. Biokind Analytics initially succeeded in helping Alzheimer’s Los Angeles analyze geospatial trends in its donorship and interpreting the previous year’s donation trends. Biokind Analytics is now a 501(c)(3) organization with chapters on seven college campuses nationwide and has served several medical nonprofits.

These collaborative partnerships powered by technology innovations are one-way organizations can collaborate to use data and serve communities. They focus on tailored targeting, enabling organizations to deliver better healthcare services by studying preferences, behaviors, and needs.

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6 Ways to Use Technology and Data to Drive Impact

In the Big Data era, it is easier than ever to collect, analyze and use data to power strategic decision-making around service efficiency, fundraising, grant applications, public relations, and more, as long as you have the right tools. Consider how technology — particularly modern nonprofit board management software — can cut through complexity and help illuminate the insights that data provides.

1. Home in on Data that Maximizes Impact

It’s a Goldilocks situation: Too much data can be just as undesirable as insufficient data. Organizations should focus on the right type and amount of data to support their operations. For example, tailored surveying—another digital board management software feature—can ensure the correct data is collected at the right time for better decision-making around goals, progress, and mission.

2. Analyse Data to Identify What Resonates with People

Memorial Health is also measuring patient experience at a consumer standard.

They are looking at ways to offer more self-service capabilities, like online appointments and more accessible provider communication.

Data can be used to understand better how patients are activating through tools, how they utilize them, and how often. Data shows if and when they are making appointments, messaging, refilling prescriptions, contacting providers, etc. All of these insights can be used to improve service delivery.

3. Adopt Smart Partnerships

The Biokind Analytics example shows that healthcare organizations can tie their success to the right partners. Modern nonprofits almost always require technology to serve their communities effectively, but most don’t have the resources or staff for every IT need. Partners such as Diligent bring experience with mission-driven organizations to make the dream achievable while staying within budget.

4. Support Strategic Planning Efforts

Current and historical data – the correct data – enables keen insights into developing and measuring progress against a strategic plan. By honing key performance indicators tied to mission goals, nonprofit leaders can quickly see and understand their organizations’ progress.

5. Use Tools that Support Collaboration

Sharing data within the board, with staff, and through strategic partnerships ensures all stakeholders are on the same page and working toward the same goals. Board management software, such as BoardEffect, offers a clear, consistent presentation of data shared through granular permissions so the board and others can be more effective in strategic planning and outcome tracking.

6. Use Metrics for Effective Resource Allocation

Staff efficiency is essential for organizations contending with shortages and burnout. By implementing task workflows and reporting, board members and organization leaders can better understand how the work is done and the bottlenecks that may impede strategic goals.

The Next Steps to Data Maturity

Most organizations already have the data they need to start making profound changes. By cutting through the clutter, honing in on the correct data, and engaging the right tools and partners, mission-driven organizations can increase their impact on their communities.

Consider this takeaway from Nathan Chappell, Senior Vice President at DonorSearch, as he spoke to The Chronicle of Philanthropy: “There’s no future where you compete effectively in a world where you’re not using big data and technology. Every nonprofit that wants to be here tomorrow needs to be able to leverage data to some extent.” Data can provide the answers, but mission-driven organization boards need the right tools to cut through the noise and inform better decision-making.

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