Making data collection meaningful

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Tip of the month

Making data collection meaningful

Data collection is a hallmark for nursing as a process to measure and assess the care we provide to our patients. This, of course, relates directly to process/performance improvement, which looks at patient outcomes, costs, and efficiencies. But it’s a topic that can become overwhelming.

If you feel that this never seems to connect with what staff members do every day, consider the following tips:

  • Are the data you are collecting the correct information?
  • Have you clearly identified what performance/outcome you are trying to improve?
  • Are you addressing high-risk and high-volume scenarios as well as high-risk, low-volume ones?
  • Do staff members know what areas tend to be problematic for the department (e.g., incomplete admission records, not getting weights consistently, or family/caregiver perceptions of care)?
  • Do staff members understand what it costs the organization to care for their patients? Can they verbalize the most common money losers?

Remember, data are useful only when staff members understand how to interpret them and apply them to their knowledge as they care for patients.


Dunham-Taylor, J., and Pinczuk, J. (2009). Financial Management for Nurse Managers: Merging the Heart with the Dollar. Boston: Jones and Bartlett.


Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN, Health Resources Unlimited, Adapted with permission.