Health Care Analytics & Joining the Dots.

After a series of obscure posts it’s time to join the dots. I feel compelled to do this after a recent post leached it’s way into my LinkedIn feed. It was most probably user error on my part but there’s no getting the genie back in the bottle now.

These posts are little more than engineering notes for me and my small team. They’re solutions that work for our use cases and environment. They were not intended to be packaged for public consumption (hence the informal language and sloppy grammar).

So, I explained how to coerce Microsoft SQL Server 2012 into exporting JSON and setting it up as a Stored Procedure or Agent job. I then showed how to access it via PowerShell or PHP.

Ok, not rocket science. No big deal. So what?

Well, our use case is Instrumentation for Clinical Decision Support. One example is this Sankey Diagram illustrating in near real time, the flow of patients through an integrated health system. These are pretty standard techniques in most industries. They’re very uncommon in US Health Care and work like this sets my team apart from our peers. The only people doing anything like this (that I’m aware of) is IBM with their Patient Care & Insights product.


Largish Hospitals and Health Systems tend to spend seven figures buying BI platforms to integrate with their EHR/EMR. I’m fortunate to work for a health system that realizes that 80% of such functionality doesn’t fit any existing use case. They’re offering to support decisions our clinicians are not currently trying to make. They’re offering to answer questions we haven’t even thought of. While they may provide insight, we’re not yet equipped to handle or respond to such insight. Our senior clinical leaders are the first to say, “Cool, but so what?”.

The clinical decisions they’re asking me to support can be answered easily with some basic TSQL. I can communicate answers very simply and inexpensively with SQL Server Reporting Services and D3.js.

Learning Data Driven Documents (D3.js) is proving to be quite some journey. It’s one of the few tools that makes data visually beautiful by default. It offers Extrinsic Rewards over and above the Intrinsic Value of our analysis and synthesis.

Earlier posts have shown how to do some of this with SSRS. The next few posts will be recipes and tuts explaining how to to do some of what we’re doing with D3 in a Healthcare Setting.


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