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Data Visualization in Healthcare

Our health care industry is flooded with data and it keeps on adding with the advancement in industry. With so much information gathered most of it gets unnoticed. Health care professionals need relevant data more quickly which helps the health care professional in day to day decision making. Be it evidence base practice, patient history or a similar past case health care professional need it ASAP.

But how do we summarize a mountain of information?

Well we do this by Data visualization! A huge mountain of information will be attenuated and explained more quickly than going through a never ending pile of files. With data visualization in health care the important data is represented in the form of graphs, infographics, images and pie charts. This helps health care providers in understanding the complex data in a very short period of time.

No one wants to grasp minute details like what was the thought behind the study or how the study was conducted, we want answers quickly without going into long boring details.
Health care industry is complex! It involves a lot of professional that work in conjunction with one another, they need to communicate as every professional contains loads of data a physician or health care provider is unable to go through all of this. It might take ages at this point data visualization in healthcare is a blessing in disguise. In today’s world our healthcare wouldn’t be able to survive without data visualization with so many evidences, theories, research papers, past cases and patients ongoing long history data visualization has made it easy for healthcare providers to access it more quickly.

How does it work?

Data visualization really allows for simple straight forward understanding of your data easily identify gap patterns. It allows for clear communication by using an interactive visual web dashboard. User is ready to easily slice and dice through data as well as drill into detail. With visualizations we get the user the information they need, of course in our healthcare system we understand the challenges we face, with number of data sets we want to build information in a way that is sustainable for long term use, The kind of information we can support, we can standardize and we can easily manage and that’s where we face the real challenge in healthcare.

  • Infographics

Not every piece of information needs to be written within the report but there is always some crucial information that need to be shown as it defends the study and provides an interactive approach to the information. We can do this by infographics! With infographics prompt and workable information can accessed by user in a short period of time

  • Dashboards

Dashboards display large set of information on one page. Health care providers are able to dig out precise and relevant information for their case study.

  • Widgets

With widgets we are able to highlight important piece of information. Widgets are able to provide interactive and custom approach to the information without the necessity of searching from a large pile of data.

  • Animations

Displaying and explaining large chunk of information in a short video or Gif is a really effective way. With these animations the user can easily understand the complex mechanism of information explained in the research paper or a case study. Motion graphics is a quick understandable method of defining large information in a short period of time with good understanding of the topic.

Visualization is a key initiative to drive results. So when you start creating a visual dashboard you really need to have a good strategy to meet those challenges and to understand the user requirements.

Four phases of strategy

Here I’ve explained the four phases that will give a successful strategy

First phase- build goals

We refer first phase as defining the goals or setting the goals. It has two parts; in first part we identify the business goals to be accomplished. What challenges are you trying to address? What business need does one wants to boost? Do you want to improve and enhance your patient satisfaction? Do you want to improve your physician’s productivity?

In the second part of this phase you need to break that goal down and really understand what are the key drivers in order to meet the challenges. What are the KPIs? What are the metrics that are going to be able to support and help drive change for the particular challenge?

In first phase we know what we want to accomplish and how do we continue to break that down for better understanding and explanation. So during phase one we've got a goal, we have a plan, we know what we want to communicate, so the next piece is that we've identified those key metrics in phase one.

Second phase – understanding data

In this phase we need to actually understand the data and identify the data sources. Where am I going to get data whether from another software or scripts from another system. You have to be able to understand the data and understand that maybe you need to do some data transformations.

Whether you’ve the KPI or metric system or you don’t have access to it you can always use an alternative system until you get that additional data. Once you understand the data and know from where you’re going to get the data things become a lot easier. With alternative system you can build a sample data. This makes it identifying the effective metrics that will be used in gathering data and obtaining the desired results. Other thing that we can do is identify the alternative metric if we are unable to find the primary metric, this way information could be easily grabbed and easily sourced from systems.

With this information we are able to at least start building the visualization dashboards. This way users are able to see what is going on and what metric information is displayed.

Third phase- Pilot

In this phase we have to plan where the data is going. We will model our data and pilot the sample visual dashboards. After this we will receive feedback from a controlled group of users and we have to repeat this step four or five times until we get a clear pilot that is going to work for all of our end users. this phase is going to use all of the phases so far that we’ve accomplished to really get to the end pilot dashboard.

Fourth phase- optimize for production

In this phase we are start to working and deploying that information we’ve gathered so far and work on production implementation. Optimize, apply security and tune some remaining errors. We are applying final optimization results in this phase, we are trying to communicate through our visualizations. So we have to optimize and put all the information in one place making it easy for user to see what they need to see and continue to ask more questions to improve the efficiency and efficacy of the data.

What visualization tools and software’s are used?

With increasing amount of data that is constantly being gathered in the healthcare industry such as patient past history, written medical records and medical device data. This creates a longitudinal patient records that is hard to go through when assessing the data.

IBM in health care

IBM plays a significant role in healthcare industry by assessing the big data and creating the logical data to meet the user demands.

We health care providers and physicians are being exposed to continuous increasing volume of never ending data. This presents us with new challenges every day and gigantic opportunities to improve the efficacy of data and deliver effective patient care program. IBM helps solve the technical challenges faced in this process by providing a huge data base of existing and present information to back up the evidence and access it anywhere any time.

Patient centered analysis

IBM focusses on patient centered data analysis by addressing the cause patient is experiencing. What are the requirements of patient and what disease he/she is suffering from? How it can be managed? this helps businesses in understanding the information and what criteria need to be focused on.

Skill to use past and present data

IBM provides the past and present data of the individual disease and condition. It also helps in digging out the past similar cases and research papers. It contains a huge asset of data that can be accessed by medical providers in one go.

Optimizing data

The data across the healthcare industry needs to be interconnected with each other. With continuous addition of newly generated data we need to keep up with the previous medical records too. IBM helps us to complex data with addition of new internal and external resources.

EHR in health care

As the world progresses, our health care industry is revolutionized with new technologies. It has given us the benefit to access information anytime anywhere. EHR is one technology that has made this possible. Within a decade it has transferred the health care industry from paper records to electronic records. By gathering information and collecting it one platform healthcare providers are easily able to enter new medications, notes and review past history. EHR is concentrated on making health information available to other health care providers more secure, safe and easily accessible.

The EHR is focused on designing a software that requires minimum effort to search for the relevant data with reduced number of taps and fast access to the information.

The EHR is defined as:

An electronic longitudinal collection of personal healthcare information, usually based on the individual, entered or accepted by the healthcare provider, can be distributed over several sites or aggregated at a particular source. This information is organised primarily to support continuing, efficient and quality health care. The record is under the control and is stored and transmitted securely.


Our health care industry is crammed with enormous data and information. As much as this information is crucial in health care industry the health care providers do not have much time to study so much information in their clinical time. They need to access the information quickly either to diagnose a disease, review past medical history or access a research paper to defend clinical study. More on that they need to understand the complex information more quickly and dig out the precise information.
All this can be done by data visualization. This technology in health care industry has changed the outlook of the information gathered from so many years. With concise infographics, dashboards and animations the health care providers can easily access the information and absorb effectively.

There are four phases to work out a report supported by data visualizations. These are:

  • Build goals
  • Understand data
  • Pilot
  • Optimize for production

With these four steps the data scientist is able to elucidate longitudinal data more effectively for the organization and health care industry. By creating sample data analysis and creating a report in excel spreadsheet data scientist can show what metrics they have used to display the relevant data. Alternative metrics can also be used if primary metrics are unavailable to the system.

Next up we have tools to use the data visualization in the healthcare industry. There are various software and tools used in displaying the data visualization. Some of these are IBM and EHR in the health care industry. Both are equally important in displaying the visual analytics.

Health care industry is continuously incorporating new technologies to improve the access to gigantic pile of data. Be it IBM to access big data or EHR to collect all the relevant patient data on one platform. Health care industry is constantly working on improving the productivity of physicians to cut long sitting hours in front of computers and going through large data. This way our physicians are not effectively able to treat more patients if they spend most of their clinical time sitting in front of computer and juggling through irrelevant data.


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