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Building a Data-Driven Culture in Healthcare For Better Decision-Making and Greater Success

Enhance patient care, focus marketing on optimal return on investment, and increase growth by creating a data-driven culture in healthcare. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Only 18% of healthcare organizations are making data-driven decisions.
  • A data-driven culture is important, but building one in healthcare can be challenging.
  • Data-driven companies grow at a rate of about 30% annually.
  • Success comes from leadership, training, commitment, and technology.

Data and technology have made massive contributions to healthcare through medical advances and how providers interact with patients. Getting the most out of both requires data and analytics for better decision-making, operational efficiency, patient outcomes, and cost savings. 

Data can also make all the difference in the success of branded – or unbranded – life sciences marketing campaigns. The objective is to become a data-driven organization that makes evidence-based decisions that not only drive return on marketing investment (ROMI), but also feed across and inform the rest of the business – be it sales, analytics or brand – and drive bottom-line growth.

A recent survey found that 70% of healthcare organizations want to be data-driven, but just 18% are making data-driven decisions. There are many reasons for this, but 56% of analytics leaders in an MIT study say one of the most significant is a lack of internal data-driven culture

Why does this matter? Becoming a truly data-driven organization requires a culture that appreciates the value of data. Building a data-first culture in healthcare offers incredible benefits but has its challenges. Let’s look at what such a culture offers, potential issues, and the steps to building one in healthcare.

The benefits of a data-driven culture in healthcare marketing (and beyond)

A data-driven culture in healthcare is one where analytics and statistics are used to optimize internal processes, task execution, and overall business performance. This covers all aspects of healthcare, from patient care or research & development, to brand, sales and marketing, spotting problems and opportunities, devising solutions, and predicting outcomes by leveraging data for actionable insights.

A data-driven culture is also characterized by a set of values, beliefs, and assumptions that help guide an organization down the road to success. Here is what to know about them: 

  • Drive business decision
    A data-driven culture gives healthcare organizations a clear, objective view of operations and resources to create efficiencies and find opportunities for automation, optimization, cost savings and growth.
  • Enhance patient care
    The better the data culture, the better the care coordination. A data-driven culture with clear communication provides the means for true continuity of care at every step of the patient journey. Clinical risks can be reduced, and providers can make the best care strategy decisions.
  • Supercharge marketing
    In healthcare, as in all businesses, customer demands are ever-evolving and organizations must adapt. A data-centric approach enables developing strategic, nuanced, personalized and measurable marketing campaigns that align to business goals. It plays a pivotal role in improving the ROI of holistic branded and unbranded marketing efforts through enhanced targeting & audience segmentation, and more nuanced messaging & engagement. These finely tuned insights can be leveraged to get in front of the right audience, on the right channel, at the right time.

Marketing becomes more efficient, effective, and less expensive with a focused approach, and the data generated in the healthcare space – when utilized in a fully privacy-compliant manner –  makes it easier to identify trends and target campaigns with pinpoint precision. This is not without its difficulties, however.

The challenges of building a data-driven culture in healthcare marketing

Healthcare marketing data becomes truly valuable when you know how to capture, cleanse, organize, and segment it to gather and uncover the knowledge it contains. The cost required to find and hire the people capable of understanding how to do this for you – and who are equipped to maintain a data platform – is also something to consider, because the process requires a specific skill-set to create a best-in-class approach. 

That means it can be difficult to implement change, even if it provides provable benefits. Here lie the largest challenges:

  • Data availability
    At the top, organizations know data is an asset, but there is often a disconnect with employees. About 62% of data teams have encountered resistance to data-driven methods. One of the issues is that most decisions are made at the executive level with data that no one else can access. This points out the need for a data strategy incorporating a scalable data platform with self-service tools to democratize data.
  • Resistance to change
    Our brains are hard-wired to resist change, and we’re also creatures of habit, most of us loving routine and process. Change can create frustration, a feeling of being overwhelmed, or fear of what it can mean. For some, change means only problems, and for others, it’s a matter of trust.
  • Existing cultural norms
    Current processes and procedures are no doubt deeply rooted, and changes often provoke resistance. It’s important to foster a culture that is agile, adaptive, open-minded, and learning-centric.
  • Lack of expertise
    hile there may be some generalities to the role, there are a great many more specific skills that the right personnel possess to successfully execute data-centric healthcare marketing initiatives. A lack of expertise means organizations will miss out on important insights and marketing opportunities.
  • Compliance complexity
    As technology has evolved, cross-border organizations and watchdogs have struggled to keep pace and set guardrails that adequately protect consumers rights while safeguarding free market economies. Retrospective data regulation has since created complexity and confusion for some organizations around how to acquire, manage and (where allowed) share their data. In some cases this has led to hefty financial penalties and overall aversion to data-heavy approaches.

When it comes to creating a data-driven culture across different industries, a great many have failed. Some lack the proper technical structure, but culture is created by the people within the organization. 

How to foster a data-driven culture in healthcare marketing

No matter where it originates, resistance must be considered and assuaged to build a data-first culture. Adopting these principles will go a long way toward garnering stakeholder buy-in and a cross-company mentality of embracing change. Levers to drive this forward:

  • Embrace a data-centric approach
    The first step is actually making the decision to move toward a data-driven approach, and seeking expert advice if you’re not sure how to do so.
  • Provide leadership
    This requires executives and managers to lead by example and highlight that data is essential to success, and convey its daily benefits in various business contexts.
  • Give data accessibility
    The ability for everyone to access data and share it – in a compliant manner – is vital for collaboration and innovation, as well as to improve patient outcomes. Access to data requires governance policies and technology tools that protect data security while empowering visibility for those with authorized access.
  • Train
    You can’t achieve a data-driven culture without training. Employees need expert educators to teach them the best ways to understand, access, and use data. Staff can become evangelists for a data-driven culture when they see what data can do to improve both their own productivity, business performance and patient outcomes.
  • Set goals
    You need metrics to know if your data-driven culture initiatives are working. Choose the right key performance indicators (KPIs) based on your organization’s goals. 
  • Show your results
    A data-driven approach produces strong results that showcase your health as a company. Showcasing this “social proof” will inspire your clients to become data evangelists who want to adopt this same tried and tested approach.

Building a data-driven culture in healthcare takes time, training, commitment, and technology, but the benefits far outweigh any challenges. You’ll be primed to make better decisions, achieve more cost-effective marketing ops, discover and implement efficiencies, and gain a competitive edge that increases the bottom line. And all while doing the most critical work: improving healthcare education and patient results.

Get help from the healthcare marketing experts

You don’t need to tackle your niche healthcare strategies on your own. Start your journey to implementing a data-driven culture with the help of Underscore Marketing and our industry A-team of seasoned experts. We use data-driven media solutions your audiences won’t ignore to launch and grow your brand. Our service offerings include strategic media planning, a robust data analytics offering with a proprietary data engine at its core, and industry-leading measurement solutions that help you boost return on marketing investment while helping drive better healthcare outcomes. 

We’re here to be partners in your success. Reach out today, and let’s get started. Fill out our contact form.

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