The goal of any medical education institution is to train competent physicians and ensure that their learning environment and opportunities are always improving. New capabilities in data governance can help facilitate this continuous quality improvement (CQI) for Deans and Directors of Medical Education Curriculums — both at the curriculum level and for individual learners. Putting CQI into practice means considering three key components – structure, process and outcomes.
With the number of facilities and databases that an institution is responsible for, tracking this data can quickly get cumbersome. The amount of accreditation data can overwhelm institutions and prevent them from ever conducting the kind of meaningful analysis that enables CQI.
Here are five ways that better data governance can help with curriculum review, save valuable time, and continuously improve student’s learning opportunities.
1. Facilitates easy analysis of program and course performance
On a macro level, MedEd analytics tools can help Deans analyze and understand program and course performance at a high level and drill down for more detail. Armed with a more holistic view of their curriculum and results, Deans can formulate recommendations for student outcomes and learning environments.
This ability to conduct longitudinal analysis allows institutions to track whether the course and curriculum changes they make year-to-year are moving performance measures in the right direction.
As MedEd curriculum standards evolve, better data visibility allows institutions to ensure their curriculum is current and without gaps. It also makes it easier to communicate curriculum information to students, faculty, and other stakeholders. Curriculum committee meetings are simpler to navigate, with plenty of easy-to-understand visuals that stakeholders can make sense of, rather than digging through spreadsheets to analyze.
“Most of our data sources were in (Microsoft) Excel files,” says Courtney Marsden, Sr. Assessment and Evaluation Specialist at NEOMED (Northeast Ohio Medical University). “It meant updating a lot of different Excel files and then converting those over to some different graphics and tables, and then copy-and-pasting those over into a Word document that would then be distributed out to each of the courses and clerkships at the end of their semester.”
2. Creates the ability to spot issues with learners or programs quickly
The real power of quality data tools is that they allow for a more immediate understanding of the current status of programs or even individual learners. Convenient dashboards with charts and graphs take the place of the seemingly endless number of spreadsheet columns.
With the ability to make sense of data as it comes in, institutions can more easily identify any struggling learners as soon as possible, and work on getting them the resources they need. It’s also easier to spot problems with assessment instruments.
For example, new exam questions may prove unfair or needlessly complex. Using exam data and learner feedback, any weaknesses in the assessment content can be identified quickly and adjusted or removed from the process.
3. Provides better insights from learner feedback
When the time comes for program evaluations, both learners and MedEd institutions can benefit from a clearer understanding of curriculum data. Reviewing and responding to this feedback is easier when you can compare the feedback of learners to the existing data in the system.
Trends and patterns from the feedback are made easier to identify when you can compare learner data across academic years, across courses, across learner cohorts. Having visual access to the data and these trends makes it easier to facilitate informed decisions for improving programs and the overall curriculum.
4. Takes accreditation reporting to the next level
All medical schools must deliver accreditation data. Having accurate records of curriculum activity allows institutions to serve up the required accreditation reporting requirements that demonstrate how they are fulfilling the standards of training mandated by their accrediting institution.
Having a more robust picture of data required for accreditation reporting and compiled in a singular MedEd data analytics tool empowers institutions to go beyond meeting the standards. It allows schools to examine where to focus improvements, and deliver true CQI.
When accreditation data is spread over multiple systems, reporting across all of them can be quite difficult. Some institutions don’t have the time to review that data in a meaningful way, because the sources of information are too fragmented. Most schools will focus only on the areas of deficiency reported to them in their last accreditation site visit.
Without an accurate and convenient picture of their entire curriculum map and results, it becomes more difficult to see what has and has not been taught, along with any trends to the positive or negative. MedEd data analytics tools take the heavy lifting out of pulling data from multiple sources and spreadsheets to analyze accreditation requirements.
5. Saves administration time for more forward-looking activities
Reporting on data takes time. Time for the results to come in from their various sources, time to combine those results from across systems, time to adjust or shape the data into a reportable format, and time to share the data with the stakeholder committees who need to see it.
Institutions who are still conducting this analysis using multiple spreadsheets and sources are “stuck in weeds” of data compiling, rather than the important work of data analysis. When all of that information is in one place, in easily understandable formats, the savings of time can be spent on more important initiatives.
For example, with a more robust, purpose-built analytics tool, Deans’ time can be freed up to spend more time on their own clinical and research work, creating a better balance with their academic responsibilities.
CQI is hard to achieve without an understanding of the data
CQI has become a key component in Medical Education and in the overall health care industry. The goal is to affect the quality of curriculum, educational environment and experience but also the success of learners. It extends to improvements in patient care and outcomes.
Investing in improved data governance and streamlining access to multiple data sources in one MedEd data Analytics tool offers time saved, higher quality insights, access to trends and patterns not easily identified previously, visual alerts about low performance and ultimately positions institutions to engage in next level CQI.