Data Governance Successes and Challenges: Spotlight on Northwestern04/10/2019
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We are continuing our blog series discussing challenges and successes from data governance leaders across the nation. Our last interview is with Colleen Triplett, Director, Analytics at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, IL.

Thank you for taking the time to meet with us Colleen. What successes did you have in the past year?

One of the things we did in the past fiscal year which supports both data governance and governance initiatives, was a master data management system implementation. We leveraged the Profisee application to consolidate provider information across 3 different systems:

The success was being able to bring together multiple stakeholders that leverage data from these various systems to understand how the data is obtained, the processes for data collection, how the system is fed and defining survivorship and synchronization.

We are still in the infancy stages of this project as it just went live this fall, but we are starting to leverage the golden record in more downstream systems.  This project has led us to think more broadly about our processes, collecting data, using data and downstream impacts to systems and people.

What is the cost of not doing governance for your organization?

In fiscal year 2018, we went live with a consistent medical record platform of Epic across our health system. As part of that project we had a robust governance model to support decisions and facilitate standardization across the organization. One of the things that has been ‘high cost’ since that implementation, is not having a post-implementation governance model.

As we went into our next fiscal year, we formed a Health System Collaborative, both on the clinical and administrative side to create new governance structures to help prioritize the work and direct and allocate resources. Without having this structure to effectively manage work and resources, patient safety and quality would all be impacted.

What was your most unexpected challenge in 2018?

The biggest challenge when you talk about data governance is the term; people don’t understand it and even if it’s not exciting, it’s necessary.  Getting people motivated and keeping them motivated as to why this is a good thing to do, why we did master data management, what value can it bring is the most important thing for us to do.  The more we can showcase the wins from the Health System Collaborative and MDM work we have done, the more people will be excited and motivated to do the work.

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

Our biggest challenge, not unique to Northwestern but something a lot of organizations struggle with, is defining data governance.  What does it actually mean? To be able to execute on something without a clear definition is a challenge. We see data governance as part of a larger governance initiative and I use the terms interchangeably depending on the audience.

Today we are challenged by achieving alignment with our leadership, both at a local and system level, to prioritize our resources and strategic initiatives. This year we are focused on getting a steering committee to help align projects and resources, so we can focus more on data governance holistically.

Anything else you would like to add about your data governance journey?

We have merged our data governance and governance journey. Over the next 24 months, we need to be flexible as our journey continues through mergers and alignment.  Right now, we are focused on merging several groups on to the standard Epic platform and the Health System Collaborative is reviewing design decisions in addition to prioritizing requests in terms of system-wide value.

Thank you for your time Colleen!

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