Data is still my favorite four-letter word

Gaining signals from noise and understanding the trajectory of service delivery

When I started speaking on the U.S. national circuit a decade ago, I delivered a standard presentation called “Data my favorite four-letter word.” The aim of the lecture then was to convince listeners and agencies that they really did have enough data and information to collect, collate, process and trend into actionable intelligence to support solid decision making.

In my own organization, I banned anecdotal evidence and retired the phrase, “well we always did it this way,” and replaced it with, “If we do what we always did, we will get what we always got.” I also forbade the use of the word “multiple” when describing a quantity of whatever it happened to be with the good-natured rebuttal, “multiple is a word, not a number – how many of x were there?” That was then. I’m delighted to see that we are now data savvy and are using data to inform decisions and actions in EMS.

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