Why Data is Terrific and Makes a Great Case

I confess, I’m a data geek, and love seeing what technology and software have done for data.  In short, they’ve made data (which geeks love) come alive in charts and graphs for the average practitioner (who doesn’t want to be burdened by a ton of print).  Some of these charts are even interactive, showing changes, highlighting key issues and making trends literally jump out at the reader.  It’s like a data movie! Data movie links are below, so read or scroll to see the exciting ways data is now made live.

It’s always helpful for providers, government and foundation staffers, and consultants to have ready reference resources for data. In today’s fast-changing internet and social media environment, data collection can still be a challenge. However, there are many excellent models and evidence based practices (EBPs) for data collection criteria. There are increasingly powerful software and media resources for analyzing and presenting data in such a way that people “get it.”

Data Collection Criteria

Most planning and analysis projects collect the following types of data:

1. General demographic data on people living in the region, usually in subsets that disaggregate data by age, income, race and ethnicity, primary language spoken at home, gender, family size, educational attainment, and other factors.  This data is critical to knowing the details about the people living in a specific region, and trends.

2.Community needs as determined through community needs assessments (CNAs), community health needs assessments (CHNAs), community planning documents, and other research and reports.

3.Services and gaps as determined through CNAs and CHNAs, or through other work that has been done to list services available for people living in the region. Most services would be located in the region, though some may be in larger cities that serve many people in the region.  Services are often defined by criteria developed by related federal and state governmental bureaus, and professional associations. For example, services provided in health care follow a specific taxonomy outlined by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), and the Bureau for Primary Health Care (BPHC), other national agencies such as the Association for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) or the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or many other field-specific organizations that set models, standards and evidence based practices (EBPs). Data is also shaped as well by state and local departments of health, state and local primary care professional associations, and information and data integration providers.

It’s been challenging. And the data collection and analysis issues have caused many providers to run from the room screaming. That’s been a sign of mental health when asked to do “one more thing” with a Byzantine data system.  However, things may be getting better, especially when we consider exciting ways to use data to make the case.

The taxonomy of service definitions used to gather data is being increasingly standardized by these large institutions for a number of reasons. For decades, funders, contractors, field-specific associations, and accreditation agencies often required different data elements for outcomes, evaluation and reporting. This created created data silos for agencies and a loss of productivity. Part of standardization is a response to this issue (the rising sound of providers’ screaming voices as they’ve protested the plethora of requirements). It’s also a response to the trend toward greater agency accountability to provide data on outcomes, and the impact of increasing access to technology and data tools.  The resources are here – – and they’re changing the way the game is played.

For more information about criteria and evidence based practices (EBPs), go to my website:  http://newventuresconsulting.net/models-and-effective-practice

Data Reporting Models and Examples

There are many excellent models for presenting data, charts and graphs in a way that clearly illustrates needs, issues, and trends.  The following are a few examples of data charts that provide information in such a way that the issues are unmistakably clear. They grab readers’ attention and, we hope, their minds and hearts. These graphs can certainly build an agency or group’s case in much more compelling ways than older, static data charts, graphs and tables.

See what you think of these examples:

 

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