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5 Ways to Leverage Data Visualization in Your Healthcare Organization

, | July 21, 2023 | By
Doctor working on tablet and viewing patient data on a virutal screen

by Dr. Rob Nelson –

Data visualization tools have revolutionized the way healthcare organizations approach decision-making, cost optimization, and patient care.

Whether it involves employing traditional infographics, interactive charts, real-time dashboards, or AI-driven data mining with machine learning-based insights, these cutting-edge tools and visualizations offer powerful methods to communicate information quickly, easily, and effectively.

With the right data visualization tools, a picture is worth a thousand words. Medical teams, healthcare professionals, and healthcare organizations (HCOs) can enable storytelling, facilitate engagement, and share intricate concepts and relationships.

However, with an ever-expanding array of techniques and tools available, the world of data visualization has experienced exponential growth, making it difficult for organizations to know how and where to incorporate them effectively.

To help make that process easier, here are five ways your HCO can use data visualizations to empower collaboration and foster shared understanding to drive more impactful patient outcomes.

The Benefits of Data Visualization for Healthcare Organizations

Data visualization helps to tell stories by curating data into a form easier to understand, highlighting the trends and outliers. In other words, a good visualization tells a story, removing the noise from data and highlighting useful information that is actionable or insightful to aid decision-making.

With the right data visualization capabilities, HCOs can benefit from:

  • Improved Decision-Making: Visualizing data helps healthcare professionals analyze and interpret large amounts of complex information, leading to more informed and personalized operational and patient-focused decisions. For more mature data visualization programs, this can include using data to aid in a variety of decision scenarios, such as operational (real-time), strategic (patterns over time), and advanced analytics to identify complex relationships, trends, and connections within large amounts of data.
  • Enhanced Data Understanding: Visual representations of data make it easier to understand trends, patterns, and relationships within healthcare datasets, helping to identify outliers or trends in otherwise bulky data. This can help to improve early detection of healthcare needs or find operational inefficiencies.
  • Easier Communication: Data visualization enables healthcare professionals to more easily communicate insights to colleagues, patients, and other stakeholders, promoting better understanding and even collaboration.
  • Performance Monitoring and Evaluation: Data visualization helps healthcare organizations to better track and monitor key performance indicators, evaluate interventions, and measure outcomes.

Ways to Use Data Visualization

Here are five key ways that healthcare organizations are already leveraging data visualization to improve their operations:

1. Patient Data Analysis

Healthcare organizations are leveraging data visualization to improve operations through patient data analysis. By visualizing patient data in real time, HCOs can identify trends, patient outcomes, and risk factors, leading to more personalized care and treatment plans.

Additionally, data visualization aids in strategic decision-making by understanding key trends in markets, such as location, health profile, and demand for specific services. For instance, a CFO of a regional hospital was able to uncover overlooked potential in the market for orthopedic surgery through a detailed visual depiction, which brought the story to life and revolutionized their approach to providing services.

2. Patient Journey Mapping

Healthcare organizations are also using data visualization to improve their operations by visually representing the entire patient experience, identifying bottlenecks, optimizing processes, and enhancing patient care for better outcomes. The clear visualization of data also enables healthcare professionals to make informed decisions, streamline workflows, and implement targeted quality improvement initiatives, leading to higher patient satisfaction and improved overall efficiency.

3. Claims Processing and Fraud Detection

Data visualization improves the transparency of connections between patients, practitioners, providers, payers, and claims. Paired with machine learning and AI technologies, visualization enables users to avoid errors and mess, as well as to quickly detect anomalies and potential fraud incidents related to medical billing or prescriptions. Health claims contain a wealth of information that can be turned into valuable insights for providers and insurers alike—and that can be used to help optimize the claims process.

4. Healthcare Policy, Planning, and Improvement

Healthcare organizations are leveraging data visualization to enhance healthcare policy, planning, and improvement. Interactive visualization tools—such as those used by the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHRQ)—facilitate collaboration and industry transformation by providing customizable data resources on various topics such as COVID-19 hospitalizations, health insurance coverage, and emergency department visits. These tools aid in monitoring population health, tracking disease outbreaks, and identifying high-risk areas for targeted interventions, enabling healthcare organizations to optimize resource allocation based on demand and utilization patterns, including staffing, equipment, supplies, and facilities.

5. Patient Education

By presenting complex medical information in an accessible format, data visualization enhances patient comprehension and empowers them to actively participate in their care decisions. Healthcare organizations are utilizing data visualization to create visual materials that are personalized to individual patient needs and learning styles, leading to improved health literacy and better patient outcomes.

Bringing It All Together

Establishing a data visualization program isn’t a one-and-done endeavor; instead, it is a continuous process that evolves with an HCO’s goals, services, tools, and needs. However, there are some common steps that HCOs can use to firmly establish their program and ensure it has the structure it needs to continuously deliver the data it needs to operate at full potential:

  • Assure training is provided to team members on visualization tools and techniques as well as how to best use visualization for different audiences.
  • Emphasize storytelling skills and methods on top of core data visualization methodologies.
  • Consider which types of relationships you are trying to show in your data and think beyond the bar and pie charts.
  • Emphasize the importance of “interactivity” in your visualization to account for different questions and perspectives.
  • Use visualization to bring actionability to every important discussion, plan, and decision.

No matter where your organization is in its data management maturity, RCG has the expertise, tools, and healthcare industry knowledge to help your team to better leverage your data.

Want to learn more about how your HCO can revolutionize how your team uses data? Then check out our related resource, 5 Steps To Take Your Healthcare Organization To the Next Level.

How digital transformation improves the quality of healthcare services and allows HCOs to do more with less.