Data Visualization: Luxury or Necessity for Managing Population Health?

This is National Health IT Week. We’re participating in the National Health IT Week Blog Carnival, offering our perspective on “The Value of Health IT” to improve healthcare delivery. Click here to see other National Health IT Week blog posts. Read contributions from Cincinnati-based health IT companies at Innov8 for Health.

Health IT is transforming healthcare delivery. Electronic medical records are in use in almost every hospital system and physician practice. Apps that help patients track glucose levels, medications, sleep cycles, and more are being introduced and improved daily. These are terrific innovations at the patient level. But how is Health IT being applied to population health?

One answer: data visualization.

Visualization tools–no matter the industry–make it easier to see relationships and identify patterns among data sets. In the field of population heath, where the twin goals of managing cost and providing quality healthcare often seem to be at odds, data visualization tools offer users a way of aggregating, displaying, and making sense of information, especially information that comes from disparate sources.

At one time, we used visuals to make our point, tell our story, and–let’s be honest–keep our audience engaged and awake during presentations. We thought that was enough, and that anything “beyond the basics” was overkill–a waste of both time and money.

We can no longer afford to be so complacent. Today’s visualization tools have evolved from pretty picture generators to genuine decision-making tools. Most data visualization tools can give you:

  • Real-time data analysis
  • Trend analysis
  • Dashboards that alert you to values that fall outside of established benchmarks
  • The ability to visualize multiple data sets from multiple sources
  • Interactivity
  • Access to data for non-data specialists

HealthLandscape specializes in online mapping tools, which give users the ability to see geographic variations among the populations they serve. This is especially critical in today’s health care environment, where providers are increasingly held responsible not only for the health of their patients, but also for the health of their communities.

Health promotion efforts focus on reaching populations at-risk for chronic conditions such as diabetes, respiratory diseases, and heart conditions before these conditions manifest. Health management plans now incorporate community-based care as a way of decreasing costs and improving clinical outcomes.

Bottom line: It’s impossible to manage the health of a community without knowing that community.

To learn more about HealthLandscape’s data visualizations, attend one of our regularly scheduled webinars:

The Community Data Portal
In-depth demonstrations of our award-winning data dissemination tool
Thursday, September 19, 3:00 pm ET
Visualizing Data with HealthLandscape
Overview of all of our data visualization tools, including the Site Performance Explorer
Tuesday, September 24, 2:00 pm ET
Introduction to HealthLandscape
In-depth instruction on using HealthLandscape, our free online mapping tool and data library
Thursday, September 26, 2:00 pm

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