Data can change the world, really. In Humanizing Data, we spotlight how organizations are using data to help build a better world. We explore the journey they took, the people they affected, and the change they drove.
Recent coverage of the Indiana Donor Network showcased the amazing story around how data and technology is helping in an unexpected way: it’s saving more lives. Located in Indianapolis, they advocate for patients in need of organ, tissue, and eye donation and transplantation. Nationwide, there are over 114,000 people waiting for donors and every 10 minutes someone is added to the US national transplant waiting list. Simply put, the demand exceeds the available supply, so the nationally-driven matching process and care approach are only getting more complex.
The Indiana Donor Network aims to use technology to modernize its business and leverages data in the form of demographics, locations, and all kinds of other elements to minimize the time it takes to market, match, and measure effectiveness. They work in a tough business that is both devastating and rewarding, supports a valiant cause, and works on not just matching but also the aftercare of patients — with a passionate staff that has its eyes wide open around its current challenges.
This past year, through using Sisense as it continued to digitally transform its business, it saved (or greatly affected) nearly 700 lives, an increase of about 30%. In the truest sense of the word, they are a model for other organizations that want to plan, execute, and measure their results more effectively. The following is a Q&A with some key members of their staff around their story and the journey they are on.
Sisense: Tell us a bit about your organization — what do you do and how do you measure success?
Steve Johnson (Chief Operating Officer): We are a non-profit organization. We are one of 58 Organ Procurement Organizations which exist to facilitate the donation process. But most importantly, we are here to save lives and measure our progress closely. Every number is a real person — so it’s truly meaningful work. Everything is focused on that singular goal. We cover the state of Indiana but work with other states to partner on cases that are across state lines.
Sisense: How do you differentiate and market yourself and who is affected by your work?
Steve Johnson: With limited resources, we lean on education for awareness in traditional media markets (in radio), to sports marketing (Indy 500, Colts), and more locally in schools. Like any other organization, we use data to drive decisions and these decisions are aimed at saving lives. All of us are passionate about it and this cause motivates us.
Sisense: What types of data do you measure?
Steve Johnson: We use data for our marketing and operations — so we’re aiming to understand the demographics of individuals to drive outreach and to help inform events. And often the way we communicate is still less electronic and more through phone calls for a more personal and memorable experience. But our events generally are more about education than specifically raising money. We use data to identify the start of a donation at a hospital (e.g. when a patient is taken off life support). That is the most crucial time to ensure it’s handled properly and notifications are sent out.
Sisense: How broad or expansive is that data?
Courtney Tillotta (Manager, Aftercare): Through data, we are able to better understand our population. Our aftercare relates to both the donor and recipient. As an example, we are caring for 3,500 next of kin because we can more easily track these families and provide better care (like grief support). The organization and relationship of data has made us more efficient.
Sisense: What other benefits do you provide to patients that might surprise people? What’s an example of a type of person you would typically help?
Courtney Tilotta: With data in hand, we can understand our populations much better. As an example, we’ve seen older females in their 60s affected after their husband passes, so with this information, we can tailor programs and better anticipate their needs. We also commonly have next of kin outside Indiana (48 states affected in all) so we work to connect those families with local organizations to support the grieving and support of any family member — no matter where they live.
Sisense: What is the problem you aimed to solve using data?
Bill Janczak (Report Writer): I joined 4 years ago and at that point, most of our data was managed in Excel. Like most organizations, we lacked a master reporting setup and were working manually in Excel, looking at reports 30 days after activity. The organization wanted to improve speed and accuracy.
Sisense: How has data changed the way you manage your business and how has that transformation occurred?
Bill Janczak: We aimed to better automate our process and use that to build internal trust with others so that we could be more efficient through technology. Today, every screen in the office uses dashboards which deliver insights to others across the organization.
Sisense: Why do you need a BI platform like Sisense?
Bill Jancazk: The amount and locations of data is only getting more complex, so Sisense helped at the collection and analysis phases. We have call centers, patient lists, and hospitals that we work with so just like any other business, we can use the power of technology to manage the way we work and where we spend our time. The analytic apps and dashboards that we build help inform what we do, they don’t drive it.
Sisense: What’s the end product look like? What’s the right balance between using data versus human decision making?
Bill Jancazk: We have a “magic board” that includes 20+ dashboards we created. This identifies trends and allows a human to drill down to affect an action, or the next step. Data has surely made these decisions quicker and easier. We rely on Sisense at this point. It helps us reach our cause of saving lives.
Brian Becker runs content marketing at Sisense. He’s previously held similar roles at Chase and Thomson Reuters and is a regular speaker at marketing conferences and quoted in media outlets such as Digiday, AdAge, Business Insider and the Content Strategist.