The vision of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association is to make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation while representing the interests of hospitals in legislative matters and making improvements to patient safety.
“Data sits at the center of [each] of those,” says David Vaamonde, vice president of data analytics. “Having a data-driven strategy is essential to accomplishing those goals.” His job is to collect all patient level data from every Virginia hospital to create a statistical database he can then run analytics on as a basis for further study.
This means that if you’ve looked up the number of COVID hospitalizations in Virginia, you’ve seen the data set Vaamonde developed in March 2020 when everything changed. “We’re updating and running the numbers every single day, including weekends and holidays, since the pandemic began,” he says, adding humorously, “I used to have a life.”
Although the pandemic created more work for Vaamonde and his team, he saw it as an important opportunity. Because they had more work, they became more efficient, learning to work smarter. The data gathering and analyzing doesn’t just apply to COVID, either. Part of his focus is on bringing data to hot topic issues that would result in a healthier Virginia.
Behavioral health, and particularly mental health, is a huge concern. So he provides data on how much burden it is on the state, as well as how much hospitals are doing now to make a case that more help is needed. Diagnosis codes often include socio-economic concerns such as homelessness, food insecurity or sexual abuse, factors that impact recovery once a patient is discharged.
“So for instance, rather than discharging a homeless person to the streets, the information allows hospitals to connect the patient to services that help with homelessness,” he explains. ‘That’s using data to change lives.”