We live in a data driven world, or so we are told. Data drives our decision-making processes in so many different areas of our life. When it comes to picking a new car, we review safety reports, look at what awards they have received and so forth. We compare brands, prices, and value on everything from groceries to clothes.
Trauma data is no exception. We collect hundreds of data elements on thousands of patients. There are rows and rows of data on multiple spreadsheets that focus on different patient scenarios. How do we really take all that data and turn it into meaningful information? First, we need to fully recognize what “data visualization” really is.
In the basic form, data visualization is the graphical representation of information and data. By using visual elements like charts, graphs, and maps data visualization tools provide an accessible way to see and understand trends, outliers, and patterns in the data. Data visualization gives us a clear idea of what the information means. This visual context makes the data more natural for the human mind to comprehend.
Human beings are highly visual creatures and have learned to interact with the world using visual cues. Our brains process images and pictures faster than text, and we use that visual data to make many different decisions throughout the day. For example, bathrooms have a picture of a male or a female, websites have social media icons to follow, and walking down the grocery aisles you are able to find your item by the picture on the label before you read the words. Additionally, we have a plethora of traffic signs lining our roads, freeways, and highways to signal us of upcoming resources such as food and gas, dangers ahead like curvy roads or school bus stops and other visual instructions to stay safe.
When you think of your favorite memories or favorite books that you have read, do you see them written down in paragraph form, describing the event or surroundings, or has your brain conjured up the image of that event or story?
The phrase ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ is especially meaningful as we apply this saying to our trauma data. Data visualization summarizes information and makes it easier to identify patterns and trends. These charts and graphs make communicating our data findings easier to our audience. Our audience can then understand the “story” easier and explore business insights further.
Kathleen Martin, MSN, RN and winner of the 2021 TCAA Award of Distinction, teamed up with Pomphrey Consulting to really address data visualization and how to better define trauma center resources. Journey with her to understand the importance of data visualization and understand how to engage in developing your own data visualization methods for your trauma program.
Continue your journey into data visualization with Gart Buck, CSTR, CAISS, and VP of Operations at Pomphrey Consulting. As an expert user of Excel, Gart walks you through basic tips and formulas that trauma registrars can utilize in dashboard development for their program. Additionally, he demonstrates how to automate your dashboard into charts for better data visualization at divisional performance improvement meetings.