Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. When those words from the poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” were first published in 1798, the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge described a story of a sailor who had returned from a long sea voyage, what was gained and what was lost on the journey.
If Coleridge was writing today, the line would have probably read, “Data, data everywhere, but is it enough to think?” A fully digitized hospital could have up to tens of distinct software systems providing data populated into an Electronic Medical record. Admissions, Anesthesia. Home care, Intensive care. Order entry, Outpatient pharmacy. And those are just the internal sources. Don’t forget about the data coming in from other providers, drug registries, and the like. But are all these data sources providing clinician’s real-time intelligence that can help them support patient populations or real-time headaches that drive clinicians towards fatigue and burnout. Are we awash in a sea of data without a lifeboat of wisdom?