You’ve most likely heard the saying “you never know what you have until it’s gone.” It is even truer in the business world: that without analytics in some form or fashion, you never know something is wrong until it’s really, really wrong. Running a business without a smart team of people digging through data and providing directional and actionable feedback is like driving at full speed with a blindfold on – hoping you will not drive off a cliff.
Setting the Scene
Imagine owning a medium sized behavioral health center. Financially, things are going smoothly and there is no shortage of clients.
You begin to hear some potentially unsettling talk from the therapists regarding the overwhelming number of clients with low functioning levels and severe mental illnesses. Working in behavioral health, those two bits of information are not alarming in and of themselves, except for the fact that the therapists also note the dearth of clients improving to a more maintenance mode in their mental health journey. Even more disturbing, you are told that a few therapists are so overwhelmed and frustrated they are considering leaving your company.
What happened? When did it happen? What is the actual problem behind their frustration? How can you fix this before you lose your employees?
What’s the Problem? Life without Data!
Without proper analytics or even simple data visibility into your business, it can be difficult to diagnose these issues on the fly. Using just your knowledge of past events, you can speculate on what got you here. You might remember one of your strongest therapist mentors, Oliver, moved out of state about eight months ago. He was replaced with another trusted therapist, Jennifer, who has worked for you for ten years. And approximately six months ago, you saw a huge influx of clients and had to quickly hire additional therapists to meet the demand. For better or worse, one of the three therapists did not yet have her certification and the other two have been practicing solo for under two years.
In your assessment of your company, nothing changed from a finance perspective. In fact, by hiring newer therapists – you saved money – seemingly a positive outcome. Well, you never know something is wrong until it’s really, really wrong. Unbeknownst to you, trouble has been brewing. Now your therapists want to quit and your clients are not showing improvement.
Because there was a lack of a data-driven view of your business available, you did not see the cliff ahead. You have just now pulled off your blindfold with mere seconds to jerk the wheel and steer your car to safety.
Revealing the Cliffs Ahead! Data Delivers.
With an analytical view of the ins and outs of your agency, you would be able to identify the trends over the past few months, serving as red flags. For instance, a simple visualization would highlight that overall client progress took a downward turn after Oliver moved out of state and was replaced with Jennifer. Although your number of clients increased with the hiring of new therapists, their clients have not seen any progress at all.
A quick staffing view would reveal that all three new therapists were assigned to a mentor who had only a few more years of experience than themselves. In addition, a client visualization would highlight that the new therapists were immediately assigned a hefty number of clients, resulting in less experienced therapists shouldering an above average client load.
While these events, when thought through as a narrative of doom, point distinctly to a downward spiral, you just did not put it together as it transpired. On the surface and according to the books, everything seemed fine. With just these few metrics of client progress over time, staff tenure by mentor, and number of clients per therapist, you can take action and implement solutions such as smarter client assignment, additional training for therapists, and a few conversations to figure out why Jennifer may not be as effective as Oliver.
Take off the Blindfold through Insights
While this was just a simple scenario, it demonstrates how much value your data has and how crucial it is to monitor data even when you think the road is clear. Data analytics and visualizations can keep you far from cliffs and even see around the curves of the road up ahead.