Books, movies and music all have a beginning. Healthcare data, when presented or shared, often does not have an intuitive starting point. The challenge of now having a clear beginning is that when you see a dashboard littered with a dozen competing charts it’s easy to disengage. Tables of raw data can be even worse. Dashboards or reports are often designed to deliver everything and the kitchen sink.
Here are a couple of examples of healthcare-related dashboards that miss the mark in terms of telling their audience where to start. In both of these cases the user has to be familiar with the data and know how to read the information correctly. Beginning or infrequent users will struggle to understand the value of this data. Without guiding them, the users can form the wrong interpretation.
Good dashboards or reports start with a high-level summary and then let users progressively and logically drill into more complex details and context. They are also simple and uncluttered. They use white space and have a clear visual hierarchy. Here are a few of alternative examples to get the wheels turning.
Even this more advanced interactive visualization, called a TreeMap, offers clarity on where to start and how to use it.
To have your audience follow your story it’s important to get them started on the right path. Think Steven Covey, Begin with the End in Mind. Just like a story your audience is along for the ride. Carry them from initial explanation to a new, shared understanding. Only then will they begin to value the effort you put into assembling and presenting the information you’ve given them.
Find out more on effective data visualization from our book, Data Fluency. Excerpted here with permission from the publisher, Wiley, from Data Fluency: Empowering Your Organization with Effective Data Communication by Zach Gemignani, Chris Gemignani, Richard Galentino, Patrick Schuermann. Copyright © 2014.About Juice
Juice is an expert in designing and building web applications that connect people with data. We work with clients across industries including healthcare, digital advertising, and other data-rich businesses. Founded in 2004, Juice has offices in Nashville, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.
Our people, our platform and our passion are all dedicated to building data products that people love to use. To us, this means finding better ways of capturing the excitement of finding an insight and sharing it with a colleague. This means telling a story using data that unfolds as your understanding grows. This means delivering data products that make your customers say, "Wow!"
HealthStream—which made a minority equity investment in Juice last year—was instrumental in a Juice headquarters relocation to Nashville one year ago, with both companies recognizing the potential of Juice and its products to support HealthStream’s network, including Nashville’s data-rich healthcare industry.
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