Cleveland Clinic Foundation saves hundreds of hours with Tableau

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation supports fundraising for one of the largest nonprofit hospitals in the United States—the Cleveland Clinic. In this video, Data Analytics Specialist Michael London discusses how Tableau has allowed the Cleveland Clinic Foundation to:

  • Save hundreds of hours on reporting
  • Enable fundraisers to track their goals
  • Focus more energy on innovation

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation supports fundraising for 11 hospitals and over 140 health centers in the United States and overseas. In this video, Data Analytics Specialist Michael London discusses how the Cleveland Clinic Foundation is using Tableau to make faster, data-driven decisions.

In video 1, Data Analytics Specialist Michael London talks about how Tableau takes care of the day-to-day tasks, freeing up his team to be more innovative with data.

In video 2, Michael explains how Tableau helps the Cleveland Clinic Foundation make dashboards that are easy to understand and explore.

“It’s saved us hundreds and hundreds of hours”

Tableau: What is the Cleveland Clinic’s core mission?
Michael London, Data Analytics Specialist: The mission of the Cleveland Clinic is patients first. That's our overall bedrock of everything we do.

Tableau: And how does Tableau help?
Michael: Tableau helps us move away from the day-to-day tasks and be able to innovate and create and push that process along so we're able to make faster decisions and better decisions that we know are going to help our patients and help our organization.

At the philanthropy institute at the Cleveland Clinic, 100 percent of dollars raised goes to research and patient care.

Tableau: Can you tell us about a specific project where you used Tableau?
Michael: Right now, we're in the middle of our Power Everyone centennial campaign. The goal is to raise $2 billion for patient care, research, and education. And we're all very committed to that goal.

Tableau: How has Tableau played a part in achieving your goal?
Michael: Tableau is a big part of that path for us. You know, we had a lot of challenges when it came to where our data was and how that needed to be presented to our fundraisers and to our research and prospect management team and to all of those different people. And Tableau helped us really integrate all of those areas and get it to the people who need it.

Tableau: How much time did that save?
Michael: It's saved us hundreds and hundreds of hours of pulling information from IT's perspective and also from the fundraisers’ (perspective) of compiling all this information that was stored on all these disparate data sources and Excel sheets.

Tableau: What was your process before Tableau?
Michael: Before we had Tableau, we were manually pulling reports. And this process could take anywhere from hours to days.

Tableau: And how did Tableau change that process?
Michael: We were able to snap Tableau onto our existing framework and immediately saw results where we were able to push data to our fundraisers and have those same types of reports, even reports that we never thought were even possible at their fingertips and ready for them in seconds rather than hours or days.

So our fundraisers are able to focus on, you know, 80 percent of their time on 80 percent of their goals, which are connecting our potential donors with areas that they're interested in funding.

They tell me it's changed their lives and everything they do. So I believe them. Like, I almost don't believe it, but I hear it so often now that you know it's true.

Tableau: From days to hours—that’s fantastic. How has your team responded to that success?
Michael: It’s just incredible to have those kinds of interactions and realize that it's not just, you know, something that's out there, something that's being used, it's being thought about. The data is being acted upon in all these different ways by all these different people, by managers, by fundraisers by, you know, chairmen and associate chairmen and researchers and prospect management.

And then they tell you what it means to them, and then that person's, you know, a senior-level executive and it's an incredible feeling to have that connection with management and have that buy in.

Reports that we never thought were even possible are at our fundraisers’ fingertips and ready for them in seconds rather than hours or days.

Creating “ah-hah” moments with Tableau

Tableau: How has Tableau changed how your organization analyzes data?
Michael: Tableau enables us to really provide technical insight through our dashboards and to have it so someone can hover over a data point, and then boom, it just shows in this huge picture in a tooltip of what's going on and all these different elements that were brought in and how they interact.

And then they get that "ah-hah" moment and see how, you know, all of these different things connect and how they're all, you know, come together.

Tableau: What differences have you seen?
Michael: We’ve got a large amount of information that Tableau’s able to suck up. And it’s able to actually produce that data faster than we can pull it out of our own servers and boxes.

It's enabled us to give that information faster to the people who need it, and also it frees up our time to be able to dive into new areas, predictive analytics and data modeling and all those different types of cool things that we know are going to pay off in the future.

Tableau: How many people in your organization are using Tableau?
Michael: We have hundreds of users throughout the Cleveland Clinic that use Tableau and Tableau dashboards. And we have tens of thousands of views every month on our dashboards.

Tableau: How has Tableau impacted you on a personal level?
Michael: Before Tableau, I didn't have much interaction with the chairman and the associate chairman. I mean, I saw them and they were super—really, really nice people, but now it's more like they're talking to me about data. They're talking to me about what they're seeing on the metrics and what my thoughts are on it and if they could see something else a different way.

So I was part of the decision-making process to choose Tableau for my institute. And I was able to get a trial copy and that's what I started using. And I was able to create things at such a fast pace that there was no doubt that this was the tool that we needed to use.

Tableau: And why did you choose Tableau?
Michael: It was the easiest solution. It allowed me, someone who's not able to, you know, code HTML and all those things, enabled me to create dashboards that were meaningful to people and that let them see my data and see our insights into that data as well.

So the Philanthropy Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, we were a test case for Tableau. So we, just by luck, had the opportunity to use this product and to test it out and our enterprise business intelligence team was very helpful in getting us set up.

And they basically had the motto of ‘give the data to the users and let them create and let them explore and do things with it and try to make it a better the organization and help our patients.

Tableau: Are you happy with your decision?
Michael: The performance of Tableau is incredible. There's no delay in what we're seeing, no matter how many users are logged on— whether it's 100 or 1,000.

Tableau: How does Tableau fit into your daily process?
Michael: We refresh data on a nightly basis. And we have our main database, which is hundreds of gigabytes. And then what we do is we transfer over a few gigabytes of data to our data mart.

And then our Tableau Server extracts the data and pulls all that information. And we're able to actually give that information to our users faster than we can pull it from our own servers after Tableau goes through all of the different processes to sort, organize, index, and all the fancy stuff that it does behind the scenes.

Tableau: How long have you been using Tableau? What benefits have you seen?
Michael: We’ve started with Server back in the fall of 2013. And we've been using Server now for about a year and a half. And it's completely changed how we interact with our information because it's created the ability for people to go out and find the answers themselves.
They're able to go into the dashboards and pull the data and work with it and look at the underlying data of certain data points that they're interested in and find out the root causes and the reasons for what they're seeing.

Tableau: What kind of data do you work with in Tableau?
Michael: So we have all sorts of donor records, and we also take in data feeds from our Epic database. And we're able to merge all those different data sources.

We’ve got a team of people that look over those standards and determine what we're bringing to our database and make sure that it's HIPAA-compliant.

Tableau: Sounds like you work with a lot of sensitive information. Do you have specific security settings in Tableau?
Michael: Tableau has extensive security features in the Server environment. And what that enables us to achieve is we can basically segment data by security level. We can do it in projects, groups, or by site. Or a lot of our dashboards have role-level filtering.

So one user can see a certain thing on the dashboard, but if another person logs in, it's Windows-authenticated, and they see a completely different picture of data that just they have access to or their manager has access to.