Your Data is Irrelevant If Your Customers Don’t Understand It

Tell a story to educate your customers on how the data affects them directly

We’re all talking about “doing it with data,” especially evidenced-based and utilization information that can move the ball forward to change practices that no longer make sense or are losing time, money or creating quality issues at your healthcare organization. While using data to build your case for change is the only sensible way to make change happen, however your data can be considered irrelevant if your customers don’t understand it. Don’t let this happen to you!

You might not realize it, but all supply chain professionals are teachers, coaches and mentors. That’s how we educate our customers and stakeholders that a change is necessary. Yet, we often forget this fact and then assume our customers and stakeholders understand the data we are presenting to them. We learned this lesson over the last few years as we presented data to our clients and found that unless we tell a good story with data, our client’s department heads and managers don’t get it, thereupon, losing an opportunity to change minds and hearts.
To keep this from happening, we now conduct an educational session, usually over the Internet with PowerPoint slides that tell a story with a beginning, middle and end that educates our client’s department heads or managers on the topic we’re discussing. For instance, if we’re discussing a possible overspend in I.V. sets, we will show benchmarks of four or five of our client’s peers to demonstrate how their I.V. set practices differ from the norm. Since no one wants to differ from the norm, this gets our client’s department head or manager’s attention. We then proceed to show them their own historical trends, usage patterns and benchmarks that had led us to believe that their I.V. sets are either being misused, misapplied or a value mismatch and how this is adversely affecting their supply budget. Typically, we know why this is happening, based on our experience, so we then teach them why we believe this anomaly is occurring by using their own data, employing graphs and charts, to prove that our assumption is correct.

This might look like a lot of work, but it’s been so successful helping our clients in making positive change happen without twisting arms, we now make this a standard service we provide for all of our utilization management clients. When you consider the downside of not convincing your customers and stakeholders with data that they need to change their behavior to save money and improve quality or safety, it’s a small price to pay to have your customers and stakeholders make a commitment to change.

Data alone won’t make change happen at your healthcare organization. Only by educating your department heads and managers, (who generally don’t understand metrics, statistics and analytics), with a great story that anyone can understand you will see the results of your “doing it with data” efforts come to fruition.

About the Author

Robert T. Yokl
Robert T. Yokl is president and chief value strategist of Strategic Value Analysis® In Healthcare, which is the acknowledged healthcare authority in value analysis and utilization management. Yokl has nearly 38 years of experience as a healthcare materials manager and supply chain consultant, and also is the co-creator of the new Utilizer® Dashboard that moves beyond price for even deeper and broader utilization savings. For more information, visit For questions or comments, e-mail Yokl at