The impact of tracking lag data is overestimated.

Many business owners measure lag data to track the outcomes of their team and company performance. But when lag data is the only KPI that gets measured, the input needed to influence outcomes is lost.  

People are missing out on a powerful data set that helps guide the daily decisions and actions that are necessary to best support positive and strategic outcomes.

For example, as a business owner, if your goal is to increase customer satisfaction, an employer may look at a customer satisfaction score, review customer complaints or analyze the rate of customer attrition versus acquisition of new customers. These are examples of lag data, and while they give the employer a snapshot of how they are doing with their customer service, it doesn’t tell them how to improve the customer experience.

What would affect their customer satisfaction outcomes might be increased employee training, expanded customer service hours, or improving the quality of management: in other words, lead measures. 

Ironically, few people in the healthcare space measure lead data, and so they miss out on the chance to create successful health outcomes through their corporate wellness initiatives. This is why most wellness programs don’t end up working (link here), because there is a misalignment of expectations. Employers are expecting individuals to change their behavior enough to impact lag measures. But, they don’t have any insight into and therefore neglect to influence the behaviors, beliefs and barriers that interfere with positive health actions.

The Power of Lead Data

Consider the difference that lead data could make in improving your company’s health outcomes. 

For example, your lag data (like biometrics (Page 6 of this article lists numerous sources) might indicate obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure among your employees. You’ve been told that exercise will improve those conditions, so you subsidize free gym memberships. And, the low risk people take advantage while the target audience does not.  But what if you understood that lack of childcare interfered with gym utilization or your own shift schedule prevented time for routine exercise? If you knew these were the barriers to increased exercise minutes (your lead measure), you could come up with the culture and policy changes that decrease barriers and influence behaviors.. Increased exercise minutes will improve your lag measures of the incidence of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

With the right insight, you have the power to positively influence lead measures. Poor lag data measured once a year does not have to be inevitable, and you do not need to be caught in a cycle of reactivity. By including lead data in your KPI measurements, you can develop a proactive plan to improve health outcomes.

Improving health outcomes is possible. Lead data will get you there.