The Case for Interactive, Healthcare-Specific Dashboards
Healthcare dashboards are critical for users (e.g., clinicians, CEOs, and improvement teams) who need quick and insightful answers to their questions in an easy-to-understand visual format. It is much easier for workers to glance at a line in a green range on a dashboard (see Figure 2 below) to see if metrics are still in the desired range rather than trying to digest a monthly line item report of patient data. Plus, users don’t need to know SQL or other querying languages to dig into the data to find valuable insights.
Because of the near real-time data dashboards display, workers can visualize where they are, where they are going, and how fast they are headed there. This enables quicker course correction if needed.
Dashboards also show users if they are holding their improvement gains for previous initiatives or if they are slipping as a previously targeted project falls off the radar. For example, Texas Children’s Hospital was able to produce a 15 percent reduction in unnecessary chest X-rays for asthma patients in just one and a half months by using a dashboard. Another health system, MultiCare, developed a modified early warning system (MEWS) dashboard for sepsis patients to quickly identify those who were trending towards a sudden downturn. Their dashboard now serves as an early-detection tool for caregivers to provide preemptive interventions. In just twelve months, MultiCare was able to reduce septicemia mortality rates by an average of 22 percent, leading to more than $1.3 million in validated cost savings.
Dashboards also serve another purpose—they give daily reinforcement to workers that their work is making a difference. This boosts confidence in their ability to make improvement changes. It also boosts job satisfaction because workers are able to maintain those gains and see the results of their efforts in the dashboard.
The Dashboard as a Single Source of Truth
A healthcare dashboard helps spread a much-needed single source of truth across an organization. Everyone—from executives to frontline clinicians—can look at the same data. When everyone in the organization has access to a consistent, reliable source of truth, then everyone can speak the same language, spread a system-wide standard of care, and work together to implement improvement initiatives. For example, because a dashboard offers a single source of truth, the dashboard can be used to maintain the definition of each specific goal. Is the organization’s goal a decrease of 20 percent or 30 percent? Having the objective defined in a consistent way across the system helps everyone remain focused on the right target.
Why Healthcare Dashboards Need an Enterprise Data Warehouse
Of course, a dashboard doesn’t just fall from the sky. Healthcare dashboards are built on the foundation of a late-binding enterprise data warehouse (EDW). Binding data later means delaying the application of business rules (such as data cleansing, normalization, and aggregation) for as long as possible until a clear analytic use case requires it. This approach to an EDW is ideal for “what if” scenario analysis and is best suited to the ever-changing world of healthcare data.
Because the dashboard is built on top of the EDW, teams can pull data from multiple source systems (e.g., EMRs, financial, patient satisfaction scores, and research) into the dashboard. This gives the team a well-rounded view of their performance metrics. Users can also monitor a clinical intervention and watch the impact on cost—all at the same time they’re following balanced scorecard performance metrics for patient satisfaction.
The beauty of adopting a late-binding data warehouse is that the time-to-value for the setup of the EDW enables users to tap into the data’s insights much sooner than with the setup time for a conventional EDW. For example, clinicians do not have to wait for the completion of all data mappings in the entire EDW (which can take months or years), but can jump in on areas of interest within weeks or months of implementation of the EDW to begin to see relevant insights and make real interventions. Clinicians can then focus on the immediate needs of their patients and the organization, rather than trying to define every possible scenario they might be interested in querying at some point in the future.
Improving Outcomes with Access to Easy-to-Use Dashboards
Healthcare is constantly changing and growing. Dashboards built on a late-binding data warehouse platform give users the ability to be agile in their approach to analyzing and using data. Late-binding data warehouses are also scalable and adaptable to the healthcare industry’s need to improve quality and decrease costs. In addition, business rules and vocabularies in the industry are changing at an unprecedented rate. The late-binding data warehouse provides fast time-to-value, plus it has the agility required for the demands of today’s healthcare analytics solutions. Combined with an interactive, healthcare-specific dashboard that’s easy to use and provides near real-time data, users now have access to the deep insight their data holds and can use the knowledge to drive improvement initiatives.
Do you use a static report or an interactive dashboard? If you’re working only with static reports, can you see the value of adopting a healthcare dashboard?