On May 30, Jason Cunningham, Chief Medical Officer for West County Health Clinics spoke on a webinar called “Turning Data into Action” where he described his journey from being a doctor-without-data to providing his clinic with insights that fundamentally changed how they treat patients.

You can register to view the recording here. Continue reading for answers to questions asked during this live event.

Who on your team manages the data and builds these dashboards?

First of all, I [Dr. Cunningham] wanted to know the data myself so I at the beginning I was looking for self-service data platforms. But once I got into it I realized I had another day job and needed someone to help. I hired a Ph.D. candidate who degree in Assyriology [the science or study of the antiquities, language etc., of ancient Assyria] and he came in and figured out how to map all of our data. Then we went looking for a second person and zeroed in on finding someone who had basic technology skills and who enjoyed solving puzzles. We found a primate biologist who was also a knitter. Between these two people, we are able to do things that large healthcare systems aren’t even thinking about yet. We use a self-service data approach and enable our staff to do very unique things.

Most people don’t recognize the power of software.  These very sophisticated tools are accessible and enable staff that isn’t trained in sophisticated coding and technology.

How do your staff become trained on using the self-service data platforms?

There are very few on the team who are building visualizations and joining data. Most of our staff is engaging with the data through dashboards on Tableau Server. Previously we had all our data in spreadsheets and only two or three of us would geek out over the analysis of the data. But now, just like staff learn to use the electronic health record, the staff learns to use the Tableau dashboard that matters to their work. We also have prizes based on the use of the dashboards and visualizations to encourage involvement and engagement.

Some of us are focused on the data or are content experts and we participate in the building of the visualizations and work with the two analysts who I hired to be a part of our BI team in a previous question.  

Why do you need to incorporate “the whole package”?  Why do you need Unifi, Tableau, and the other tools you mentioned?

Data is not just information but it’s an engagement tool. We got started by realizing we wanted a visualization tool. This allowed my staff to learn Tableau with an online community. The problem is we needed to do some heavy lifting with the data behind the visualizations. The big data ingestions into the system were just too much for Tableau alone and the joins between the data were complicated. In addition, we needed to be able to mask the data from people who shouldn’t be able to see the specifics but still needed to be able to use the data and then visualize it in Tableau. Tableau doing the calculations didn’t work well but Unifi as the base layer and Tableau as the visualization layer was the winning combination. And as we move forward to incorporate more AI and NLP we’ll continue to see benefits of Using Unifi together with Tableau.

Where is the country in regard to a fee for service vs Value Based Reimbursements?

Healthcare providers are not typically incentivized to do this yet. Some large organizations are starting to get into risk-based rewards but most are not there yet. Also, most healthcare data systems are scary and big and there isn’t yet the concept yet of Self-Service in this area.

How does the data prep of Unifi different from Tableau Data Prep?

Both platforms offer data prep but the Unifi Platform offers two additional pieces that don’t exist in Tableau Data Prep: Data Catalog and Data Governance and Security. We think there a complimentary play – The Unifi Data Catalog can help every Tableau user discover the data they may want to use in visualizations and allows that data to be searchable and used in the analysis even if the data contains PII. The Unifi Data Catalog can also crawl Tableau Server so there is another shared value through collaboration in Unifi helps ALL Tableau users find and use data and TWBX. Of course, for many companies who don’t have just Tableau in their data environments, having a suite of tools that will help any BI analyst using any tool to find and use data in their analysis

Does Unifi have a Developer Edition or similar so that developers can use it for free?

You can try Unifi free for 15 days on Azure here’s the link https://unifisoftware.com/onramp/

Can you say more about the school district data and how you used this for community health?

Two of the most expensive parts of the state budget are health care and education. Upstream care and early intervention are key to solving budgeting problems at the state level. We partner with organizations who are focused on community safety. Community health has a real interest and opportunity to map data find valuable analysis of the data. First we are answering questions like ‘can we do this?”  “Legally can we do this?” and what we’ve found is that we can do it with Unifi. By protecting PII we are able to look at the overall data from many different inputs and look at a social network analysis to identify people and communities who may need extra support and then WCHC can partner with community health centers to offer more support to help solve challenges like addiction, for example. This wouldn’t even be possible if we couldn’t create a safe, protected viz in Tableau using Unifi as the base layer.

Have you explored anything wearable device data?

Yes! Our electronic health record can get uploads from some wearable devices. But providers go home at night too, so if we’re absorbing all this data we have to ingest at the metadata layer to be able to give providers a notification when something happens that would be a reason for the provider to take action. We are working to figure out how to best use this data.