Tableau Helps Johns Hopkins Cut Emergency Stays

Business intelligence dashboard software from Tableau helps Johns Hopkins Hospital reduce patients' emergency department stays from 11 hours to four.

Ellis Booker, Technology Journalist

October 31, 2013

3 Min Read

5 Big Wishes For Big Data Deployments

5 Big Wishes For Big Data Deployments

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With 67 private exam rooms and six trauma rooms occupying 35,000 square feet, the emergency department (ED) at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospitalis a big place.

To optimize the flow of patients out of the ED, the hospital has become a marquee user of a dashboard from Tableau Software, which updates its status every five minutes, pulling patient whereabouts and status from five or six departmental systems.

Doctors, nurses, administrators, shift coordinators, and even the nurse managers on the floors use the dashboard. But the system, which can be accessed via authenticated PCs or tablets, has done more than optimize the flow of patients out of the ED; it has helped overcome a "silo" view of hospital activity.

"Before this, staff would bring six or seven reports to a monthly meeting," Hetal Rupani, an MHA and senior project administrator in the hospital's department of medicine, told InformationWeekin a phone interview. "Actually, the dashboard has broken the Berlin Wall," she said. "It's common ground, and everybody is using it."

[ How good is your hospital intelligence? Read How Mature Is Your Hospital Business Intelligence System? ]

The dashboard, in place for about a year, maps to strategic guidelines issued at the end of last year by the hospital's board of trustees that patients shouldn't spend more than four hours in the ED.

Thanks to the real-time view, patient throughput indeed has improved, Rupani said.

"We're now hitting four hours, versus 10 or 11 hours last year," she said, adding that occupancy of ED beds has reduced from 90% to 80% or 85%.

One upcoming feature of the dashboard will be to give users the ability to filter and customize their view; for example, showing activity only for their own unit.

An "Essential" Platform

According to research by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society(HIMSS), executive information systems, including data dashboards, now enjoy about a 65% market penetration.

"We're seeing a mature market, growing 9% over the last five years," James Gaston, senior director of clinical and business intelligence at HIMSS Analytics told InformationWeek.

To help heathcare organizations navigate the IT landscape, HIMSS Analytics produces a guide, Essentials of the US Hospital IT Market, compiled from its own survey database of nearly every hospital in the United States.

Gaston said at least one catalyst for adoption has been healthcare reform, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has put pressure on these institutions to use more sophisticated IT, both to run their business and clinical services.

General-purpose dashboards "are one type of BI report application that healthcare is beginning to embrace as it improves IT overall," Gaston said.

Now that she can monitor the supply and demand of beds, as well as predict how many admissions from the ED will happen, Rupani wants to create other predictive models, such as peak times for discharging patients. To get a more complete view, she wants to pull in non-ED admissions, such as referrals.

"Right now, we only have the number [of these admissions], not the five-minute updates," she explained.

The success of the dashboard is indicated by the fact that other departments at Johns Hopkins Hospital are approaching Rupani, asking for help to deploy their own Tableau dashboards.

About the Author(s)

Ellis Booker

Technology Journalist

Ellis Booker has held senior editorial posts at a number of A-list IT publications, including UBM's InternetWeek, Mecklermedia's Web Week, and IDG's Computerworld. At Computerworld, he led Internet and electronic commerce coverage in the early days of the web and was responsible for creating its weekly Internet Page. Most recently, he was editor-in-chief of Crain Communication Inc.’s BtoB, the only magazine devoted to covering the intersection of business strategy and business marketing. He ran BtoB, as well as its sister title Media Business, for a decade. He is based in Evanston, Ill.

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