A typical health system compiles troves of data from more than a dozen sources, including electronic health records, insurance claims and Press Ganey reports. There's no shortage of Excel files and pivot tables to be created and analyzed.
Effectively analyzing all that data has become increasingly important to the successful operations of healthcare providers, whether it's to determine where they have gaps in care, assess their population health management initiatives, or reduce costs for episodes of care.
Enter Tableau, a Seattle-based firm that was founded in 2003. Its goal is to allow data analysts in healthcare and other industries to build multidimensional data sets that visually represent all the salient information so organizations can effectively use that data to improve their operations.
One New York City health system, for instance, was able to use the software to map the ratio of patients to providers in different areas of the city. Tableau claims that its software can build a data dashboard in eight minutes or less, and can combine data from disparate data sources with a quick drag and drop.
“It actually (has) turned the business analyst into a hero,” said Andy De, Tableau's managing director for healthcare and life sciences.
Tableau was born at Stanford University, where a Ph.D candidate named Chris Stolte was researching how visualization techniques can help with data analysis. His faculty adviser was Pat Hanrahan, a professor at Stanford's Computer Graphics Laboratory and a founding member of Pixar, the famed computer animation studio working with the movie industry. “Tableau literally has storytelling built in,” De said.