Written by: Ray Pedden

I have never actually tried to get a drink of water from a fire hydrant, but I can imagine it. Even though there is all the water you can drink, at the end of the day it just leaves you really wet and not very satisfied.

Why the metaphor? There is no shortage of data in the safety net. Data sweeps over us every day. The question is how can we make it useful and actionable.

Many well-respected academic institutions are now offering graduate degrees in health informatics. The American Medical Informatics Association has been around for more than 35 years and actively supports five domains from Public Health Informatics to Translational Bioinformatics.

In safety net, we are typically going a thousand miles per hour with our hair on fire every day just taking care of our patients. How can we translate all of this work and use it as a part of our daily mission of caring for those most in need? Few of us have the time to go to school to earn a Masters Degree in Health Informatics like to one offered at Northwestern. Nor do we have the ability to attend all of the AMIA programs that are offered every year across the country.

There is a lot of ground that needs to be covered. This was driven home to me this week when I saw a whiteboard at CCI’s office that illustrated what it takes to become “data driven.”

This whiteboard sketches out the scope of a CCI project aimed at helping us along the pathway to becoming data driven. CCI’s Director of Programs SA Kushinka is leading an effort to create a video learning series on “Building a Data Driven Culture,” sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation. The data resource center is based on content and curriculum from CCI’s Safety Net Analytics Program (SNAP), and is expected to launch sometime this fall.

Take a look at this picture and think about the incredible complexity involved in this world of data. It’s intimidating, but it’s also vital to be honest about where we are on this journey towards being data driven. Seeing the full scope is the first step to begin thinking about the how you are going to manage in this new environment.