The key to making 'lightning fast' decisions amid COVID-19 surges

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Kerri Webster, vice president and chief analytics officer of Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, joined the Becker's Healthcare podcast to talk about her career journey and top priorities for patient data initiatives.

Below is an excerpt from the podcast. Listen to the full episode here.

Question: What are your top priorities, and how do you anticipate they will change in the next 12 months?

Kerri Webster: Our top priorities have been and always will be to provide meaningful data and analytics and insights to our organization so we can support our patients and those who are taking care of them. That's not a new priority, but the urgency and importance of this really pivoted during the last year with the pandemic. We needed to rapidly focus and shift our pandemic response, and it was our top priority throughout the year. We started by supporting the COVID command center that was spun up at the hospital, and [we] needed to provide fingertip access to those people so they could make lightning fast decisions in a landscape that changed minute by minute.

When we started early on tracking our positivity rates and predicting our personal protective equipment volume and usage, we were looking at how many tests we were doing and were able to help the command center have operational insights of our workforce.

We've evolved that through the present day where we're now supporting our mass vaccination clinic for the next 12 months. We are providing meaningful data and analytics to support the organization as we recover to ensure we have exceptional outcomes and support our research. We're affiliated with an academic medical center and have always been involved in research, but now we're doing COVID-19 research and other critically important [research] for the kids and people in our community. I'm also excited about that. We're working on some predictive analytics, which includes forecasting our volumes. COVID-19 has really sent most hospital systems for a loop.

Being able to predict what we think our census is going to be has been really critical to our path forward. Pre-COVID, we had relatively predictable admission rates with the seasonal flu and when kids typically have surgery in the summer. That's really not the case anymore. We haven't seen a traditional respiratory or flu season. The punchline there is quarantines and mask- wearing works.

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