Data Governance Successes and Challenges | Prominence
Data Governance Successes and Challenges: Spotlight on Excela Health02/26/2019
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We are continuing our blog series discussing challenges and successes from data governance leaders across the nation. Our second interview is with Allison Lutz, Director of Business Intelligence at Excela Health System in Greensburg, PA.

Thank you for taking the time to meet with us Allison. We know 2018 was a big year for you, what successes would you like to celebrate?

We implemented our first two very robust Tableau dashboards, the first being Surgical Services. We made a lot of information transparent on the efficiency and effectiveness of our surgery processes across five surgery sites.  With that transparent data we have increased OR utilization, decreased delays and increased understanding from a physician perspective. This has ultimately lead to more trust in the data and use of the data now that it is in a governed atmosphere.

The other accomplishment of 2018 was centered around data governance and the acceptance of it throughout the organization.  The organization’s increased understanding of data governance and standard work ensures we are reporting our information correctly.  This has allowed us manage data requests and work to provide transparency in the process, while also focusing on capturing insight from the data.

What is the cost of not investing in DG for your organization or keeping up on the work done so far?

Without a robust data governance program or process, there are a lot of people running in very different silos, perhaps doing the same work. You also have very different things being reported out on. For example, for the Length of Stay metric, someone might be reporting on a patient’s entire length of stay at the hospital versus a unit-specific length of stay. We could make an incorrect decision or investment based on not governing our definitions and data.

If we don’t keep up with our practices, we will go back to the siloed thinking and not look at the patient or decision holistically.  We would incur more cost from a labor perspective and the cost of incorrect decision making.

What was your most unexpected challenge this past year?

We underestimated how long the education process on data governance concepts would take.  We needed to educate the end user on why data governance is important, why we have to establish standard definitions and why we want to be transparent in our requests. It was a process that took most of the year.

The other thing that was an unforeseen challenge was the large volume of ad hoc projects.  These ad hoc requests make it difficult to plan and structure data governance and standardization.  We spent a lot of time this year on tracking and trending our ad hoc projects to see if we can combine some or make them more routine to get out of response mode and into proactive mode in our BI department.

What do you see as the biggest challenge you need to tackle in 2019?

As our organization learns more about data governance, 2019 challenges focus on defining our long-term data strategy, specifically where will the data live, appropriate transformations, and how to elevate it from being just raw data to meaningful stories for our end users. At the end of the day, we want to use data to make decisions.

We are also focusing on self-service analytics in 2019. To enable self-service, we need to educate the end user on how to use analytic tools and how to ask the right questions so we as an analytics team can produce the materials they need and help them mature in the use of data and tools.

Anything else you would like to add about your data governance journey that might be helpful for others to know?

Our data governance journey brought to light how many different things we were doing in various ways. We realized a lot of work was happening, but it was not producing insight. The BI team is now focused on producing insights because it can build on the standardization of language and terminology across the organization.


Thank you for your time Allison! Stay tuned for the next interview with Sara Gonzalez, Director, Project Management Office at University Hospital in Newark, NJ.

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