Tag Archives: cost

Visualizations to navigate Healthcare

Visualizations to navigate Healthcare

One of the more powerful visualization websites I have seen recently is called “Healthymagination” created by GE. It features about 2 dozen visualizations, most of them interactive, on healthcare related topics such as Cost of Getting Sick, Heart Disease Myths vs. Facts, U.S. Health Profiles by State and County, leading Causes of Death etc.

From the GE Visualization About page:

“At GE, we believe data visualization is a powerful way to simplify complexity.

We are committed to creating visualizations that advance the conversation about issues that shape our lives, and so we encourage visitors to download, post and share these visualizations.”

These are built using the Visualizing Player tool from the Visualizing.Org community, which we covered in a previous Blog post here.

One visualization I found particularly useful shows hospital quality. Imagine you just moved to a new area and want to find out which are good nearby hospitals. How would you find out? Ask friends? Ask your doctor? Try one and switch if you have a bad experience? In most cases, you would not base your decision on a lot of data, or at best a small set of anecdotal experience.

With the hospital quality visualization you have a much better tool to base your decision on facts. The interactive set of graphic visualizes performance of hospitals by 30 measures about the best kinds of treatments or practices for common conditions for which Americans enter hospitals and seek care. Here is an example:

Florida Hospital Performance Rating based on 30 measures, 2009 Data

This aggregates a lot of data. You can see how some hospitals outperform the average and show mostly green measures (such as the Centers in Atlantis and Aventura), while others have more average (yellow) or below average (red) cells (such as the Boca Raton Community Hospital). On this high-level you can already decide in favor of a specific hospital, if you can afford to go there. If you are going to a specific hospital, you can use its scorecard to look at specific areas. Let’s look at the Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boynton Beach as an example:

Performance Scorecard of Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boynton Beach

It has only one red measure, here on Heart Disease Discharge Instructions. From the legend on the right you can learn what this performance measure captures and that the national average is 86.6%. Hovering with the mouse over the red cell shows the score for this particular hospital, here 68.7%. As a patient you can use such data to obtain additional information if you or one of your loved ones has been treated for heart disease at this hospital.

You can also look at the national average scores of hospitals across the United States for each of the 30 measures:

National Average Scores for U.S. hospitals

From this chart you can see that for example regarding Children’s Asthma, the in-patient measures are near 100% and very good, whereas the home management plans (what to do after going home) are only at 60%. Whether this indicates a general pattern – hospitals perform lower on discharge instructions than on in-patient care – would need to be validated across more than just two arbitrary selected examples. But in any event, this is a classic example of how the Internet and especially interactive visualizations based on recent and public data empowers the consumer in all areas, especially in Healthcare.


Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Medical


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Customer Profitability

Inequality is often at the root of structure and contrasts. Exposing inequality can often lead to insight. For example, take the well-known Pareto principle, which states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes (hence also referred to as the 80-20 rule).

From the above Wikipedia page on the Pareto principle, chapter on business:

The distribution shows up in several different aspects relevant to entrepreneurs and business managers. For example:
80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers
80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers
80% of your profits come from 20% of the time you spend
80% of your sales come from 20% of your products
80% of your sales are made by 20% of your sales staff
Therefore, many businesses have an easy access to dramatic improvements in profitability by focusing on the most effective areas and eliminating, ignoring, automating, delegating or re-training the rest, as appropriate.

Visualization can be a powerful instrument for such analysis. For customer profitability, a graphical representation of this inequality is often used as a starting point for analysis. A commonly used visualization is the so-called Whale-Curve. I created a short, 4 min video recording of a dynamic Whale-Curve Demonstration:

In case you’re curious, the above demonstration uses an underlying model I created in Mathematica. You can dynamically interact with it yourself using the free CDF (Computable Document Format) Player:

I have provided it as a contribution to the Wolfram Demonstration project, so you can download it, and even look at the source code if you are a Mathematica user.

If you are interested in applying customer profitability analysis to your business, you may want to consider the company RapidBusinessModeling, which has an elaborate analysis approach starting with such Whale-Curves.

The underlying notion of Inequality is a fundamental concept. We will look at it in other contexts in a later post.


Posted by on August 18, 2011 in Financial, Industrial, Scientific


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