New Work: GE
How healthy are our hospitals? Working with GE, Lisa Strausfeld and her team have designed a new interactive data visualization that tracks the quality of patient care in over 3,000 hospitals across the United States. The visualization presents 30 basic measures of care in five categories of common conditions for which patients enter the hospital: surgery, pneumonia, heart attack, heart failure and children’s asthma. The project is based on data from The Joint Commission, an independent, non-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 17,000 health care organizations and programs in the US.
The visualization is being introduced via GE’s Healthymagination initiative and was launched at a GE Healthcare summit in New York last week. The visualization is the second in an ongoing collaboration between Strausfeld and GE, following the home appliance energy use calculator that launched last month.
The Joint Commission prescribes standards for patient procedures including infection control during surgery and treatments for common conditions using antibiotics and other therapies. These “evidence-based” treatments are scientifically proven to lead to the best results in patient care, and the visualization is based on the procedures that hospitals are encouraged to follow. (It does not reflect actual patient outcomes.) The visualization uses data submitted by hospitals to the Joint Commission during its accreditation process.
The visualization presents a comprehensive and detailed view of the quality of care in the rated hospitals. Strausfeld and her team devised an arrangement of 30 squares, one for each of the featured measures, and a color system that indicates how that measure compares to the national average. Users can view the results of all the hospitals in their state and compare their local hospitals—facilities are alphabetized by city—before clicking on individual hospitals to read specific scores.
The data can be examined in two views, by performance rating or measure category, each using a different set of colors. In the performance ratings, below average scores are indicated by red, above average is indicated by green. (The national average is often quite high; a red score can still range in the 90th percentile.) This allows users to get an overall view of how their local hospitals are doing. A separate color scale allows users to compare hospitals by measure category: here, the darker or bolder the color, the better the rating. Users can quickly see if their local hospitals do well in the surgery or pneumonia categories, for example. Blank squares represent missing data, or a sample population not large enough to be statistically significant. A legend of the color system is featured on each page.
The visualization is designed to help empower patients, providing them with information that will help them make decisions about which hospitals are best in their communities. It can also help hospitals; organizations that participate in the Joint Commission studies find their ratings consistently improve over time, because the ratings give the hospitals a way to track their performance in these treatments. The visualization can be used to illustrate and encourage these scores. The commission adds new measures every year to keep the standards current and responsive to trends, and the visualization can be updated to include this information.
Project Team: Lisa Strausfeld, partner-in-charge and designer; Hilla Katki, designer; Adam Suharja, developer.