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July 29, 2019
Workforce data: Knowing people is helping people II
By: Ulla Kuukka

In my last blog I opened a discussion on the meaning of workforce data in healthcare organisations and identified the potential risks (but the concomitant enthusiasm among employees) of its use. Today I take a look at the outcomes that could be achieved, assuming responsible, secure use of employee data to better understand employee needs and potential. Sound scary, or too theoretical? Take a look.

What could be the outcomes of using workforce data in healthcare? There are plenty, but the highlights include:

  • Identifying or quantifying employees’ learning ability, to offer them better tailored training (some are more willing to use virtual reality than others) and ability to innovate.

  • Finding potentially more appropriate career paths (e.g. being a diabetes nurse requiring a lot of comprehensive, physical patient interaction versus being a virtual obesity coach)

  • Appropriate risk taking (willingness to use new technology, piloting).

  • Near-real time performance assessment, rather than measuring performance or training done in the past (how the employee is using EHR-system now, and how to use it even better).

  • Identifying job vulnerability to automation (transcribers for instance) and ability suggest to roles based on skills and re-training possibilities.

  • Understand attitude and outlook on work and life (how to interact with patients).

  • Evaluate the need for autonomy (what roles are most suitable?).

Data sources are the digital footsteps you leave behind

The prime source of workforce data is to mine and analyse employee social media activities, email and calendar activities to discover passions, drives and connections to match people to an optimal work culture. Somehow this feels a bit too far-reaching for healthcare but could be potentially useful for instance in sales and marketing roles.

Workforce data can also be used in making fairer hiring, pay rise or promotion decisions by leading with data and not with biases or old traditions (an excellent neurosurgeon does not automatically make an excellent people leader).

More than worker bees

Use of data, new technology and advanced electronic health records enable better and more accurate predicative healthcare and personalised pharmacotherapy for the good of patients. What if healthcare organisations were to use existing data to the benefit of their employees? Happy and appropriately placed employees have direct impact on customer/patient satisfaction, efficacy and, in the end, on the bottom line.

Nonetheless, the main objective in mining the potential benefits of workforce data is to see the employee as a whole—not just as a “worker bee,” but as a full human being with potential to grow into the future needs of the healthcare provider and industry, to anticipate their likely career development path and help them to achieve it. What are your thoughts? Have concerns about privacy or safety? Reach out—I’d love to discuss with you.


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