Someone You Should Know: Using data to improve health care

Someone You Should Know: Using data to improve health care
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 4:55 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Bobby Menzie spends a lot of his work day locked into a computer.

“I’m the lead data scientist at Sanford. I’ve been here for seven years,” said Bobby.

The New Jersey native originally came to Sioux Falls to compete on the track and field team.

“Majored in math, with a secondary in education. And then I got my master’s in operations research, which is industrial math, essentially. The original plan was to teach and coach,” said Bobby.

That plan changed, and those math skills led him to Sanford.

“So, we try use of our data. We try to pick apart the data and provide useful information. Operations, finance, nursing the patients,” said Bobby.

Bobby created an algorithm that could be groundbreaking in the healthcare industry.

“Really, it’s a staffing and scheduling algorithm. What it really does, it looks at the volumes of patients, or what ever the demand is, and tries to figure what the supply we need, in the case of staffing. If we know how many patients we have in a department, we know how many nurses we need,” said Bobby.

“Bobby’s worked with our operational leaders and helped create a tool that would help Sanford first, is typically how we develop things, and it had the potential to help a lot of other organizations,” said Director of Data Analytics Derrick Schafer.

The analytics are giving the exact numbers. It’s not a guess anymore.

“Now, we have the data to support that. So, we’re able to say next month, at seven o’clock in the morning, on this day, you’re going to need five nurses,” said Bobby.

“And then, from there, we can provide info. We can also automate your schedule using data. We can get nurses in the right spot, at the right time, making sure that they are happy and working the shifts that they want to work while still making sure all of our patients are cared for,” said Bobby.

It took a year-and-a-half for Bobby and his team to create and implement that plan. It’s helped during a key time after a nursing staff shortage following the pandemic.

“It’s been used for almost two years in our hospital systems, and there’s been some substantial impact in both cost savings, but also staffing levels,” said Bobby.

A guy behind the scenes, making a health system run more smoothly.