Tag Archives: charts

Advanced Analytics, Part III

This post is also about the front-end part, as a conduit for information delivery to the decision maker. Previous two posts are available, it’s recommended to check out the Introduction into the Big Picture and Ruminations on Conveying, Organization and Segmentation of Information for Executives as users.

Big Data? All Data!

It’s time to pay attention to all data available. Personally I see no reasons to limit to big data. All data matters, most recent data matters more, oldest data matters less. It is possible to visualize plenty of data on relatively small space, which is convenient for delivery onto smartphones and wrist-sized gadgets. The rationale is to depict firm details on the most recent/relevant data, the relevancy is determined by the adopted processes. In SDLC it could be a sprint or iteration; in healthcare it could be a period since current admission. The latest measured value matters a lot, hence must be clearly distinguished on top of the other values within the period. The dynamics during the period also matters, hence should be visualized to convey the dynamics.

Previous periods/cycles do matter, especially for comparison and benchmarking to enable better strategic planning. The firm details on dynamics during past cycles are not so valuable, while deviations into both positive and negative directions are very informative. Decision maker knows how to classify the current cycle exceptions, whether something brand new happened or whether business experienced even more severe deviations in the past, and recall how.

Being inspired some time ago by medical patient summaries by Tufte and Powsner I’ve tried to generalize the concept to be applicable to other non-healthcare industries. So far it fits perfectly, allows customization and flexibility, especially for the optimization of the processes, where people usually use control charts on dashboards. Below is a generalized version of the ‘All Data’ chart as a concept.


Inverted Pyramid

The principle of Inverted pyramid is partially present there, the pyramid is rotated by 90 degrees. Most important information is within the biggest part of the chart, in the center and on the right. It is rather information than data, because id conveys latest value, dynamics during recent cycle, benchmarking against the normal range, indication of deviations (in qualitative way, using only two categories: somewhat and significant). It’s rationale to stay in the range of 10 with the measurements so that they are remember-able relatively easy.

The next narrow part to the left from the sparkline is partially information and partially data. It’s used for comparison and benchmarking, analysis of exceptions, retrospective analysis. It is absolutely logical to fit there 10 times more data, so that if there is a lack of information in the biggest part, the user is able to dig deeper and obtain significantly more facts and reasons, as measurements of the same thing. Hence phase shift means at least 10x growths. With medical patient summaries the ratio was similar: one-two months between admission and discharge vs. one previous year. But 10x is not a hard ratio, it’s more indicative that we need a kind of phase shift to different data, different level of abstraction.

The leftmost narrow part is actually the all and oldest data. It is additional phase shift, relatively to the middle part, hence imagine additional 10x increase and digging to the different level of abstraction again. Only exceptions marked as min/max are comparable between all parts. Everything else constitutes the inverted pyramid of making the information out of raw data.

Cap of the pyramid: Vital Signs

I think the cap of the information pyramid requires special conceptualization. ‘All Data’ is attractive tool to deliver project/process vital signs for executives and other managers (decision makers), they could be compressed even more. Furthermore, the top five-seven measurements could be stacked and consumed all together. That increases the value of the information synergistically, because some indicators are naturally perceived together as juxtaposition of what is going on.

Specific vital signs for business performance and SDLC process optimization were listed in details in my previous post Advanced Analytics, Part II. Here I will only mention them for your convenience: productivity, predictability, value and value-add, innovation in core competency, human factor and emotional intelligence/engagement. Those are ‘the must’ for executives. They could be stacked as vital signs and consumed as integral big picture.


Of course we can introduce normal range there, ticks for the time tracking, highlight min/max… The drawing represents the idea of stacking and consumption of executive information of SDLC project/process performance in modern manner. You could critisize or improve it, I’ll be thankful for feedback.

There are two dozens of lower level operational indicators and measurements. Some of them could be naturally conveyed via ‘All Data’ concept, others require other concepts. I am going to address them in next posts. Stay tuned.

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Mobile EMR, Part III

This is continuation of previous posts Mobile EMR, Part I and Mobile EMR, Part II

We’ve met with Mr.Tufte and demo’ed this EMR concept. He played with it for a while and suggested list of improvements, from his point of view.

‘All Data’ charts

Edward Tufte insists that sparklines work better than dots. It is OK that sparklines will be of different sizes. It is natural that each measurement has its own normal range. Initially we tried to switch the charts to the lines, but then we rolled back. Seems that we should make this feature configurable, and use sparklines by default. But if some MD wants dots, she can manually switch it in app settings.

Partially our EMR concept has been switched to sparklines – for display of Vital Signs. Below is a snapshot:

Vital Signs

One more thing related to the Vital Signs, we did great by separating on the widget on top, and grouping them together. It adds much value, because they are related to each other. It is important to see what happened to them at each moment. Our approach, based on user testing, appeared to be a winning one!


Current use of the space could be improved even more. First reason is that biggest value of that research was keeping ‘All Information’ on single screen. Human eye recognizes perfectly which type of information is needed. All space is tessellated into multiple locuses of attention. Then human eye locks the desired locus and then focuses within that locus. Second reason is iPad resolution. We can squeeze more from retina resolution without degradation of usability (like size of labels and numbers). It is possible to scale to the newspaper typography on iPad, hence fit more information into the screen estate.


This confirms the modern trend to genetics and genetic engineering. Genogram is a special type of diagram, visualizing patient’s family relationships and medical history. In medicine, medical genograms provide a quick and useful context in which to evaluate an individual’s health risks. Many new treatments are tailored by genotype of the patients. E.g. Steve Jobs’s cancer was periodically sequenced and brand new proteins where applied, to prevent disease spread. All cells are built from the proteins, reading other proteins as instructions. This is true for the cancer cells. Thus if they read instructions from fake proteins, then they can not build themselves properly. We like this idea immediately, because its value is instant and big, its importance is as high as allergy. Below is sample genogram, using special markers for genetically influenced diseases.

Sample Genogram

There are other cosmetic observations which will be improved shortly. We continue usability testing with medical doctors. More to come. It could be Mobile EMR on iPhone. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Continued on Mobile EMR, Part IV.

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