A Leap into the Future: How Data Visualization Became a Key Driver in Palliative Healthcare

by: Visual Room
May 16, 2018

Over the past decade almost every industry has seen a massive uptick in the volume, variety and velocity of data moving through the enterprise. Combined with new computing capabilities and accessible cloud storage technologies, these tools have given organizations the ability to analyze everything from customer preferences and industry-wide trends to the efficiency of their business processes.

In a field that has traditionally been very resistant to change, big data has been a key driver of innovation and profitability for healthcare providers. With medical researchers collecting years of studies and clinical trials into indexed databases, and insurance providers digitizing thousands of patient medical records, hospitals and private clinics now have instant access to a range of targeted insights that can help them to drive down overheads and develop personalized patient services.

Adding to this, diverse new data drawn from wearable technologies and social media have created ideal circumstances for the emergence of new value-based treatment models that are based on a patient-centric approach to healthcare.

The Dilemma

While industries like finance and telecommunication have been quick to recruit data scientists with the expertise to extract meaningful information from raw data, hospital IT workers are largely limited to more conventional programming languages and database technologies. As a result, the vast majority of organizations that run analytics systems do so in a haphazard manner with no coordination or cohesion behind the implementation.

Because enterprise data is not collected and prepared for analysis, the insights drawn from these systems will be misleading or even completely inaccurate which completely negates any benefits to be gained from big data.

If healthcare providers wish to evolve and adapt to the rapidly changing demands of modern consumers, then widespread reform across the industry will be required. A successful reform will require input from medical professionals, data scientists, and organizational leaders. Like any digital transformation, healthcare reform must come from the outside in. So unless the very users of healthcare technology are willing to incorporate analytics into their daily operations, reform will be doomed to fail. Here, designers and usability experts and designers will play a key role in condensing millions of data points into an intuitive interface that can actually gain adoption throughout the sector.

The Power of Data Visualization

Data only becomes relevant when users are able to identify the patterns and relationships which underlie it. These interactions are often impossible to find in raw data or even written reports, unless you have previous experience with data analysis. This is where visualizations are so important. Effective visualizations link together images, data, and other explanatory information into a cohesive narrative that can be understood by experts and novices alike.

A clearly organized data dashboard offers an accessible platform that allows users to keep track of key metrics that are affecting performance delivery and process efficiencies across the organization.

Data Visualization in Palliative Healthcare

Data analytics and predictive modeling hold a particularly important role in the field of palliative care. When patients and their families are faced with an increasingly narrow range of treatment options and the possibility of end-of-life discussions it can be extremely difficult to find an optimal way forward. In these cases, treatment options are often split between high-risk medical interventions that may offer a slim chance of medical improvement and less invasive therapies that are focused on minimizing pain and stress.

Here, data-driven medicine can provide the objective answers that doctors and patients need. By bringing together a range of information regarding the patient’s current condition, treatment history and medications and comparing this to a wealth of cutting-edge medical research, doctors can actually quantify how patients are likely to be effected by a certain course of action. These insights can help patients to maximize their quality of life with minimal hospitalizations over the remainder of their lives.

Of course, many medical insiders argue that modern healthcare analytics lacks the completeness and detail to inform such complex, critical decisions. This is where visualizations will prove so important. By condensing millions of data points regarding, family histories, genetics, patient medical information and resource availability into an intuitive dashboard, these tools offer medical professionals the ability to dive deeper into the data and extract the kind of insights they need, for the most difficult decisions.

Learn More

At the National Palliative Care Registry we collaborated with Cantara Science on  a complete overhaul of their data analytics systems to create an extremely intuitive dashboard which has increased visibility and connectivity between healthcare facilities across the country. To find out how we can help your organization increase collaboration and end-to-end design experience strategy, get started here.