Every day, healthcare companies collect and analyze an incomprehensible amount of data. Experts estimate that the healthcare industry generates around 30% of the data in the world, and the volume of data generated by the industry is still growing exponentially. But what do healthcare companies do with all of this data they’re collecting?
The goal of collecting this data is to discover actionable insights that enhance patient care, drive productivity gains, and ultimately increase profits. There’s a large jump between collecting data and actually putting it to good use, though. So first, these companies must tackle some of the major data challenges in the healthcare industry.
Major Data Challenges for Healthcare Companies
To effectively leverage healthcare data, companies have to address key challenges such as:
1. Data Silos
Often, healthcare organizations use a variety of systems to collect and store their data. Without the right processes in place, this data can then become siloed—kept separate from other data and only accessible only to a single department or business group. Data silos prevent organizations from using their data to the fullest extent. They can see the whole picture only by breaking down these silos and integrating data.
2. Security Issues
Healthcare data is generally highly sensitive and subject to a variety of data security regulations, such as HIPAA. In addition, cybercriminals specifically target healthcare organizations with ransomware and other attacks to compromise this data, so proper security measures are essential. Failing to protect your healthcare data can lead to very costly breaches and irreparable damage to customer trust.
Consider how many people within your organization would say they can confidently analyze healthcare data and find insights. It’s likely not very many, and that’s normal. Despite the growing emphasis on data collection and analysis, many companies still limit data analysis to dedicated experts. As a result, the majority of the company is left on the outside when it comes to interacting with and using your data.
When most of your team members cannot engage with your data, you’re missing out on valuable perspectives and analysis. That’s why there’s such a push toward data democratization—the process of making data and analysis accessible to everyone in an organization.
Data Visualization Examples in Healthcare
Tackling all these challenges is a complicated process, but one tool that makes a huge difference is data visualization. Data visualization is the process of converting data sets into visual forms like graphs, charts, and maps to display the information.
In the healthcare field, data visualizations help organizations take the massive data sets they collect and turn them into something more useful. Today, every healthcare company can benefit from using data visualizations as part of its analysis efforts.
Healthcare data is incredibly varied, so it’s no surprise that there are many different types of data visualizations. Here are some of the top data visualization examples for healthcare data:
Source: Centers for Disease Control
If you want to convey complex data to the public (as healthcare companies often do), infographics are the perfect way to do so. These images contain text and graphics that highlight the most important information from a data set. They may include charts, statistics, and other key details that help viewers engage with the content.
For example, the infographic above informs viewers about cancer in the Caribbean. At a glance, anyone can see that breast cancer causes 30% of cancer deaths among Caribbean females and other relevant statistics. The average person wouldn’t be able to quickly pull out those details while looking at the raw data instead. That’s the value of creating and sharing infographics: they make complex data easy to understand.
Healthcare companies can use infographics internally and with the broader public. Within the organization, share infographics to engage your team members during presentations or while conveying internal reports. Share infographics with people outside of your organization to get the public interested in your findings.
2. Interactive Dashboards
Source: World Health Organization
Sometimes, a static graphic isn’t enough to fully convey the information contained in your complex data sets. In that case, interactive dashboards may be the ideal data visualization solution.
Interactive dashboards generally include several different data visualizations representing a complex data set. The viewer can click on different parts of the graphics and make adjustments to view the data in greater detail. This interactive component only makes the visualizations even more engaging for the viewer. If they have any areas of interest in the data, they can dive into them and learn more.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, several organizations released interactive dashboards showcasing data on the pandemic. The dashboard shown above is just one example created by the World Health Organization. In the dashboard, viewers can adjust details like whether they’re looking at weekly or daily data and cases or deaths due to COVID-19.
3. Interactive Apps and Widgets
Like interactive dashboards, interactive apps and widgets are another popular form of healthcare data visualizations. These tools take the engaging interactivity of dashboards and make them available on mobile devices or other websites.
For example, the CDC offers a variety of interactive health data widgets that anyone can download and embed on their website. Then, viewers on the site can interact with the widget and learn more about the data it displays. Rather than using pre-made widgets like these, though, healthcare companies may choose to create their own data visualization widgets or apps. Offering digital apps that allow patients to view their own medical data through interactive visualizations is becoming more popular with healthcare providers.
Ready to use Data Visualizations in your Healthcare Enterprise?
Data visualizations are powerful tools for any company collecting and analyzing data—especially one in the healthcare industry. These visualizations transform dry, inaccessible data sets into engaging and understandable graphics. Use visualizations to get a better handle on your data, thus improving the patient experience and internal operations. Not sure where to start? Contact Live Earth to speak to our data experts and learn more about the power of data visualizations in healthcare.