NHS Scotland modernizes their approach to healthcare data with Tableau

Scotland’s public healthcare system is rich with data, including important details about staff, treatments, and insurance. The business development team at NHS Scotland is responsible for defining, collecting, and distributing this information to their customers in a simple and accessible way. In this video, Head of Business Development, Michael Muirhead and Principal Information Development Manager, Jamie Gray discuss how Tableau has helped NHS Scotland:

  • Quickly collect and visualize data
  • Allow authorized users to slice and dice data through the NHS Discovery project
  • Encourage accessible data with a browser-based server solution
  • Inspire a collaborative working partnership between business and IT

Tableau: What does Tableau enable you to do? Jamie Gray, Principal Information Development Manager: Tableau has offered a whole new medium by which we can engage our customers in NHS Scotland. Michael Muirhead, Head of Business Development: Tableau has allowed us to visualize data with a much more modern interface. It's making a lot more information a lot more accessible in an understandable way to a lot more of our customers, which has been really great A lot of the data that flows through the NHS comes to our organization. And we're responsible for the definition, the collection, the collation, and dissemination of all this information to support the NHS as it carries out its duties. And our Department of National Health Services provides a range of functions, for example, blood transfusion, the payment to doctors, GPs, dentists and pharmacists, national IT infrastructure and procurement, a whole range of things. The department that I'm involved in is around the information aspect of the NHS. And we're in a sense maybe the national information collection agency for the NHS in Scotland.

Now we're thinking about how else we could use Tableau moving forward, and as a significant part of our toolset in the organization.

Tableau: What kinds of projects are you using Tableau for? Michael: And as part of a program to modernize the way that we present our information back to our customers, we started to use Tableau. We're using it to develop a product called Discovery, which is really a product for our customers to use. But we're developing it very much with them. Jamie: It was a server-based solution that we needed because we didn't want to put the onus on the end user to have to procure any software or do anything different. So that kind of browser-based offering through the server was a nice option for us. Tableau: How does that work? Jamie: They can now actually get their hands on their own data that we've prepared for them. But the way they can cut, dice, and splice that and make it meaningful to them—I think it's re-enlivened the whole relationship between us as an information provider and them as the end user. So it's been really encouraging. Michael: And our mission statement is turning information into evidence for action to support the health and well-being of the people of Scotland. And in that journey from data to information to translational intelligence is really important for us and we see Tableau as being really a crucial component of the armory that we have to allow us to achieve that. Tableau: How has Tableau changed your relationship to data? Michael: I think with the advent of Tableau our relationship with IT is a much more constructive, positive relationship. We've got much more cooperative, collaborative working partnership. We can do a lot more on our side of the fence, maybe from the business side. So in a sense we found using Tableau allows both sides of the organization to play to their strengths a lot more and it's much more efficient and effective way I think to do business. And our analysts who are working on Tableau have really embraced it actually. And once you go over the initial, 'this is different from how we normally do things,' they really embraced it, which is great to see. Tableau: How do you keep data secure? Jamie: An individual makes a request to a particular service that our organization provides, one of those being the Discovery service. And then in that they also request what level of access that they require. And then they have to give a reason for the local authorizer to approve it or reject it. So it's dynamically changing as the business thinks, 'okay, we've procured it for this,' but now we're thinking about how else we could use Tableau moving forward, and as a significant part of our toolset in the organization.