Like so many others on the American mainland, we at Dimensional Insight could do nothing but watch as Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September of 2017. After the initial shock of the impact of the storm, our thoughts quickly turned to our new customer, Doctors Center Hospital. The hospital has four locations on the island and is headquartered in Manatí, 35 miles west of San Juan. Immediately following the hurricane, the hospital had no power and had an influx of patients. Parts of the hospital had to run on a generator for several weeks. And as we now know, the death toll across the island was much greater than indicated in the official count.
Close to a year after the hurricane, I visited Doctors Center Hospital in person. I had met Pedro Ríos-Mercado, the hospital’s IT director, at HIMSS in March. I was intrigued by how the hospital used technology immediately following the hurricane, and how it was planning to use Diver in a variety of ways in the future. What I found when I visited was a culture that has embraced data from the very top of the organization and has made it central to daily decision-making. Here are some highlights from my visit.
The value of data following Hurricane Maria
When Hurricane Maria pummeled the island, Doctors Center Hospital had just gotten up and running with Diver. It had only been using Diver for a few weeks and was just starting to bring validated data into the system. Was that data useful in a time of crisis?
As Pedro explained to me, the hospital census proved to be a valuable data point as the facility was short on staff who couldn’t get to the hospital. Since the hospital was over capacity, managers were able to see how many patients were in different areas of the hospital and could prioritize staff based on those numbers.
What was really encouraging to me was that the hospital has done so much more with Diver since the hurricane. For example, it has installed a dashboard for its emergency department that monitors turn-around times and where people are in the facility. That means the hospital is now much better prepared to use data not only in an emergency, but also for everyday decision-making.
Decision-making from the top
Another thing that struck me about Doctors Center Hospital is that the data initiative came from the very top of the organization – the hospital’s president, Dr. Carlos Blanco. Every morning, Dr. Blanco looks at the Diver hospital operations dashboard and uses that to start his day. Are admissions from the ED up? Are they down? Do they vary from one hospital to the other? From there he starts making calls and asking questions. The data is his starting-off point.
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed from my many visits to customer sites, it’s that an executive directive – particularly from the president of an organization – is key to analytics success. The executive suite sets the tone for the culture of an organization, and in this case, it’s clear that data is critical to the decision-making process. Once employees know that data is central to success, they start looking for ways to use it to improve their own decisions and processes.
Data spreading throughout the organization
Having personnel use Diver is a high priority for administrators at Doctors Center Hospital. Jesús Santiago, internal auditor, talked to me about how the organization is working with employees to get them to use the dashboard more often. Of course, it helps that Dr. Blanco uses it every day and employees want to be on the “same page” as him. Right now, the hospital is working with administrators to increase usage. From there, it will be moving to increase usage among medical directors and other employees.
Employees who have been exposed to the system have seen the power of increased access to data, and in many cases, are looking for ways to further empower themselves with information. For example, Amis Reyes, the chief nursing officer, talked to me about how the nursing department is currently using the census data and turnaround times to make personnel decisions about where staff should be reinforced. Amis and her staff are also using the census data in tandem with the hospital’s MEDITECH EHR to look at patient conditions and making sure that providers are following order sets. In the future, Amis would like even more granular data brought into Diver. This will help her see the acuity of patients and their classification.
Amis is typical of many of the employees at Doctors Center Hospital. Once she was exposed to gaining more access to data and saw the positive impact, she quickly started to look for new ways she could use Diver. Doctors Center Hospital’s goal is to eventually use Diver in clinical, financial, and operational ways.
One version of the truth
One of the most important things that Diver brought to the table for Doctors Center Hospital is data governance. Dimensional Insight’s Measure Factory provides a set of pre-defined business rules and it ensures that people throughout the organization are looking at the same data in the same way.
During our conversation, Pedro explained that other vendors simply weren’t talking about data governance. That’s one of the key things that set Dimensional Insight apart. Pedro said, “The biggest win for me is that everyone is using the same formula. There is no, ‘we have different numbers; she has another number from the same data.’ No… that’s not the nature anymore.”
Instead of arguing about the numbers, employees can now focus on what the numbers mean and know they are starting from the same baseline.
At the end of my visit to Doctors Center Hospital, I left feeling very optimistic. This organization is still in the beginning stages of how it’s using Diver. There are a lot of projects on its plate that the hospital is looking to implement. But it was clear that the hospital has a great analytics foundation. It has a leader who has embraced the value of data, employees who are enthusiastic about digging in and learning what the data will show them, and a strong technology that will serve the organization well for years to come.
- This was my first trip to Puerto Rico, and I hope not my last. I stayed in Old San Juan during my visit and had a few hours to tour the city. Did you know San Juan is a walled city? Starting at the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, I walked on the Paseo del Morro on the outside of the city wall. During my walk, I saw the Puerta de San Juan (the red entrance way in the photos above), which used to be one of the only ways to enter the city, and served as the main gateway for dignitary visits.
- One of the most frequent questions I got after I returned home was, “How is Puerto Rico doing?” The areas I visited in San Juan and Manatí seemed to be fully up and running. Of course, it was the more rural areas of Puerto Rico that were more heavily impacted by Hurricane Maria. There are still many organizations doing relief work in Puerto Rico that you can support.
- Although both Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico, Spanish is definitely dominant. I took Spanish in college, but let’s just say it’s been a while, and the phrases I remembered were definitely of the more colorful (and memorable) kind. I tried to brush up before my trip with a Spanish podcast, but I have quite a way to go to get back to anything that would be serviceable. Thankfully, most of the people I encountered there either spoke English or were kind enough to direct me to someone who did.
To learn more about how Doctors Center Hospital is using Diver, read the case study on our website.