Integration: The Ultimate Solution for Nonprofit Data Silos

Many nonprofits struggle to maximize their data usage. In fact, when surveyed, 97% of nonprofit professionals expressed an interest in learning how to use their data more effectively, and only 5% reported using data in every decision they make. The challenge is due in part to data silos, or groups of raw data isolated from different departments.

Data silos are a common problem across all industries and can cause serious pain points, especially as data volume increases. Specifically, this issue is relevant for the nonprofit healthcare industry, which generates nearly 19 terabytes of clinical data each year and must leverage that data within their current decision-making processes.

Let’s take a look at how these organizations and other nonprofits can overcome data silos with integration.

Healthcare Data Silos

Healthcare data silos, or divisions within the healthcare data system, are due to hundreds of applications running at once. These applications exist within everything from electronic health records (EHRs) to revenue cycle management and claims management.

Often, organizational structures within individual facilities and departments create their own data platforms and workflows that are not aligned with one another. To make matters worse, these platforms may not be built to scale, meaning they won’t be able to keep up with the demands associated with increasing data volume.

To understand why nonprofit healthcare data silos are an issue, let’s examine their ramifications more closely:

  • Inefficient workflows: Data silos cause duplication and can force operational teams to manually input data, wasting both precious time and resources.
  • Data inconsistencies: Data silos updated independently create more room for data entry errors and compromise the data’s usability.
  • Restricted research: Inconsistent data restricts healthcare teams’ ability to perform meaningful research and problem-solve.
  • Incomplete patient profiles: Partial or limited patient data can cause substantial issues with patient diagnoses, treatment, and ongoing care.

Lack of shared storage, inaccessible files, and the desire to avoid changing existing data platforms all worsen these existing data silo challenges.

So, how do healthcare organizations overcome these data silos? There are two solutions for integrating your data — either build an in-house centralized data platform or research an analytics vendor to outsource data collection and analysis.

Arcadia recommends researching your own organization’s needs to identify which solution makes the most sense for you. Additionally, if your organization decides to partner with a vendor, identify their areas of expertise, security policies, and training or customer support programs before making the final call.

Nonprofit Healthcare Data Integration

By aggregating data onto one accessible platform, nonprofit healthcare organizations can deliver better results through strategic growth. Additionally, they can experience improved care collaboration and enhance overall patient care.

Data integration allows nonprofit healthcare organizations to:

  • Exchange data at a faster rate.
  • Standardize data formats to ensure consistency.
  • Access a full view of patient profiles and avoid missing data.
  • Use analytics tools to surface new patient insights.
  • Coordinate care efforts to make more informed decisions.
  • Understand individual patient health within the context of population health trends.
  • Manage and streamline patient outreach efforts.

Within the same accessible data platform, nonprofit healthcare organizations can maximize their administrative and clinical workflows. This leads to measurable growth and improved patient results. Additionally, this digital shift to increased data interoperability means less chart chasing and improved quality care. These changes can be expressed by KPIs such as lower hospital readmission rates, higher patient satisfaction rates, and more.

Other Nonprofit Data Silos

Although the data types differ, data silos exist in other kinds of nonprofits as well. From donor management to volunteer communications and major giving planning, every nonprofit has plenty of data to manage.

It can be tempting to update these databases separately as your staffing, systems, and operational processes evolve. Additionally, you may have different departments handling separate parts of your organization, from financial accounting to event planning.

These divisions create data silos that can cause roadblocks within your organization, resulting in unnecessary friction between teams, unmet campaign goals, and staff inefficiency. In other words, when all of your organization’s time and energy is spent decoding incomplete, dirty data it causes a decreased mission impact.

Nonprofit Data Integration

Data integration opens the door to collaboration. Although it has historically been completed manually, this process can now be streamlined through a software platform known as an integration solution. This cloud-based solution automates data collection and exchange between multiple sources, offering access to more current, cleaner, and complete data.

So, what does successful data integration mean for your nonprofit? Here are a few advantages:

  • Deepened donor connections. According to NPOInfo, effective donor data management keeps track of metrics like giving habits, contact information, demographics, and nonprofit interactions. Keeping your donor data clean and accessible means your team can benefit from integrated, up-to-date insights to deepen existing relationships.
  • Improved staff collaboration. Save staff time and costs by avoiding manual entry. Reduce the risk of future data silos with cross-functional communication across fundraising, event management, marketing, and volunteer management teams through a standardized, holistic approach.
  • Informed fundraising plans. Take your fundraising to the next level by leveraging current data analytics and insights derived from integrated supporter data. Track engagement patterns and understand donor behavior to create a data-driven fundraising strategy.
  • Enhanced security. Keep sensitive financial records safe. An integrated data solution uses encryption and data backup and recovery services to ensure your supporter data is anonymized and protected against system failures.  
  • Impactful multi-channel marketing. Automate and streamline email campaigns, donation acknowledgments, social media posts, and text appeals using integration. Coordinate your campaigns across multiple channels to increase your reach and engagement rates.

One of the greatest advantages of an integrated nonprofit data platform is improved relationships. As a nonprofit, you know the time commitment necessary to establish supporter connections, deepen them, and steward them over the years. An integrated platform can free up your team’s time and resources to focus your efforts on doing just that.

Data silos cause problems throughout the nonprofit sector. Face them head-on with an integrated data platform built to streamline data collection and exchange. Doing so will unite your team and expand your impact.