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Data Governance Carla Russell, Senior Project Manager
Data governance represents one of the biggest changes on the healthcare horizon today. At Prominence Advisors, we were pulled to data governance dynamically. When we started as a company, we focused on Epic staff augmentation, our comfort zone. We realized the power of healthcare data that wasn’t being utilized, and we grew our expertise in analytics solutions. In working with analytics implementations, we found a common denominator missing, to some degree, with all our clients: No one was fully realizing the true value of their data.

​We began to address the governance principles of people, processes, tools, and the data infrastructure itself, and we realized that it’s not as easy as just getting people in a room to agree on a process; we found the true barriers to data governance were barriers to big change itself. Our customers understand that by resetting the foundation supporting their information lifecycle, the value of data is easier to both measure and manage. They know that this is the necessary direction to take to deal with all the data they have in an effective way. But big change is tough – where to begin?!

​This transition from recognizing the necessary steps to actually taking them, moving outside our comfort zone, parallels experiences many of us go through on a personal level.  In my case, it was my experience with a personal trainer. Check out the similarities I found as I compared characteristics of both.

1. Recognize and acknowledge the boundaries of your current comfort zone
Our Data Governance Clients:
Healthcare organizations aren’t in the data processes business. As the emphasis on data grows, it feels ever larger and more overwhelming. Leaders know concepts like system-wide data governance are taking hold, but they aren’t sure how to get started. Healthcare organizations are in business to help people have, maintain, and regain health. There are areas with robust data utilization, but the principles aren’t often system-wide or institutionally driven. Not only are enterprise data governance and data management efforts new and unfamiliar, results can be slow to realize and challenging to measure. When assigning priorities, it’s easier to bump the effort that is the least comfortable.
Me, as a Personal Training Client:
​I’ve never seen myself as athletic. Growing up, my sister was a talented, driven gymnast. I’d go along to her practices and read a stack of library books while she did intense drills like handstand pushups and hanging leg raises. I spent a few years in dance lessons more because of my natural clumsiness than my natural athletic ability. Through the years, I’ve found joy doing activities that just happen to be exercise, such as running or cycling. That said, when I think about my ideal Saturday activity, it’s more often relaxing in the sunshine than embarking on a 5-mile run. Without challenging fitness activities ingrained in my routine, it’s easier to talk myself out of trying something new.
2. Work with an expert for an objective reality check
Our Data Governance Clients:
Healthcare organizations realize that, regardless of whether they have processes in place, the volume of data coursing through their systems is ever-increasing. Not only do they need a strategy to address the needs of their current data and information lifecycle, they need a plan that supports their future goals. From managing compliance demands to preparing for exciting opportunities like predictive analytics, a foundation of data and information management is key, and our data governance program can help organizations build that foundation.
Me, as a Personal Training Client:
​I’m a mother of two and not getting any younger. I realized my casual pursuit of fun outdoor activities wasn’t helping me build the muscles I needed to cart my ever-growing kids around or to counteract my computer-facing hours. They also certainly weren’t helping me look ahead to fitness goals, such as running another marathon (like I did 10 years ago). I needed to shake things up. I decided to try out a personal trainer at the gym I had joined about a year ago (and not set foot in recently).
3. (Really, really) commit to a plan
Our Data Governance Clients:
We meet with our clients to conduct a current-state assessment, toevaluate their existing challenges and bright spots related to data utilization and data and information governance. When it’s time to work through our recommendations, what convinces our clients to continue our partnership to tackle their data governance challenges?​
Big change is intimidating.
Change related to data ownership, accountability, processes, and expectations requires many things that can make it seem harder than the average level of change. For example, people who’ve never had data in common will now be able to share data.

  • Yay – it’s an exciting opportunity to speak the same language and see a more comprehensive view of our operations!
  • But…who’s in charge? What if we don’t agree? What if you change something that I need the way it is already? What if I don’t have confidence in your department using the data in the ‘right’ way?

​​Building a data governance program isn’t easy.
Our customers could research what’s worked well for other organizations, and improve through trial and error, but they are busy. They have a lot of things competing for their limited time and resources. Prominence is not only experienced in data governance in the healthcare sector, we are passionate about it. We love researching data governance principles in other industries and imagining them relative to healthcare – what would need to change to make them work?

Our clients need accountability to make a change. Even if they know their way around process improvements and they feel comfortable with their vision to make data an enterprise asset, they find value in having an extra nudge. We’re on the course together, adjusting the plans as necessary to align with what’s really unfolding.

Me, as a Personal Training Client:
​I met with a trainer who conducted an interview and an initial assessment of my fitness. He prioritized an approach for me (strength training) and an initial plan of 6 exercises, and we tried it out. When it was time to commit, I knew I wanted to go in for a long haul, starting with 2-3 times a week for 6 months of training. What convinced me?​
Strength training is intimidating.
​A lifestyle change (ahem, building an exercise regimen that goes outside of my comfort zone) is tough to do successfully. Even though I knew strength training was going to help me achieve my goals, I didn’t know where to start on my own. I had many doubts about doing it alone:

  • Which exercises should I do, and in what order?
  • How do I safely and effectively use weights, kettle bells, and machines?
  • How much weight is the right amount – not so light that it’s ineffective, and not so heavy that I hurt myself?

​Planning a workout isn’t easy.
​I could research what kinds of strength workouts other moms are doing, begin planning and implementing my own workouts, and improve my skills through trial and error, but I’m busy. I have a lot of things competing for my free time. My trainer is not only experienced in building workout plans, he’s passionate about it. He reads up on building muscle for fun. His understanding of how muscles behave gives him insight into which weights I should use and when to make changes to my plan.

I needed accountability to make a change.
Even if I knew how to use everything and could craft great workouts for myself, I knew I needed an extra nudge. Now I’m committing with my wallet and my time to know that someone waiting for me with a personalized plan to help me achieve my goals at an incremental, realistic pace.


A long way from the kettle bell I used when I started RDLs.

Keep that back straight!
Because I’m more passionate about designing strong, effective approaches to bring the value of data to the forefront of our health systems than I am about designing balanced, challenging strength workouts, I find my mind wandering during my training sessions.

While I’m breathing through my reps, I think about my work on data governance projects. I think about the leaders at the healthcare organizations I work with who know that data governance is the right next step toward achieving their data goals, but they don’t have all the pieces in place (time, energy, a plan, accountability, etc.) to get there.

While I’m struggling to control the momentum of a kettle bell swinging in a smooth arc, I think about how difficult it can be to make a change that requires new and unfamiliar efforts outside of our comfort zones. I think about how acknowledging that change is both necessary and difficult gives staff the permission to take these new and often slow-moving efforts seriously.

While I’m focused on my knees tracking over the outsides of my feet during a set of squats, I think about how critical it is to anticipate mistakes when trying something new, to watch for errors in form or function and immediately teach from them. I think about how essential the role of an expert is to building the awareness, not just of what might be misaligned, but also what the relative impact might be.

While I’m setting up for three sets of ten with a weight I couldn’t lift at all last month, I think about thethrill of recognizing incremental progress for what it is – the result of a vision and the commitment and patience to keep moving, one step at a time, toward that vision.

Interested in talking more about your data governance needs? Contact us at:
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