The Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center is a combined statutory public health entity and health service provider serving more than 700,000 residents of Lake County, a suburban area of Chicago and the third most populated county in Illinois. When the Health Department implemented Tableau Online in 2017, adoption was slow, mostly due to data limitations: With more than 20 disparate data sources and 36 different applications tracking everything from patient data and community events to behavioral health and infectious disease, Tableau users struggled to access the data required for making strategic and tactical decisions that would drive the organization forward.
The department came up with a strategic plan to centralize its analytics activities, drive self-service analytics so all employees could make informed decisions based on relevant data, and curate highly visible reports that would help drive organizational improvement. Previous methods for producing these reports required intensive allocation of engineering, computing, and planning resources. By implementing Tableau Server and using Tableau Prep Conductor, part of Tableau's Data Management Add-on that automates data flow scheduling and enables easy flow monitoring and administration, the department reduced the burden of creating and managing the reports to the point that they now require almost no resources to maintain. This frees up time for patient care teams, creating opportunities for them to help more patients in the communities they serve.
A key advantage of this streamlined reporting process is that it enables faster decision-making and data project development. Shrinking production time and rapidly delivering new solutions to user requests builds user confidence in the process and in utilizing data to help them do their job. This, in turn, helps fuel productivity and generate excitement and momentum around analytics that fosters a robust data culture within the organization.
Over two years, Tableau adoption at the Lake County Health Department has expanded from 35 to more than 450 users and continues to grow. Critical Tableau visualizations like the productivity dashboard, agency financial dashboard, and clinical quality dashboard support daily decision making across a variety of roles. For example, the process of allocating limited resources for programs serving low-income residents and communities requires clear access to data. By interfacing with Tableau and Prep Conductor, the department can extract the right insights from its various data pipelines and visualize its options for how to approach the problem. In this way, building a trusted, committed data community within the health department translates into meaningful change within the community as a whole.
With Tableau and Prep Conductor, we're putting the whole ETL process into the analysts' hands. It's made us completely rethink how we design our data architecture—moving away from a warehouse strategy and more toward ad hoc, where the analysts can manipulate and prepare the data in more agile ways that respond to business needs more quickly and effectively.
Jefferson McMillan-Wilhoit,Director, Health Informatics and Technology
Update (May 2020): Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Lake County Health Department has worked tirelessly to provide up-to-date, reliable data, via Tableau dashboards, to local healthcare systems and government officials. They have used Tableau dashboards to maintain situational awareness, make decisions on community interventions, and communicate with the public. To learn more and see examples, visit the Lake County Health Department profile on Tableau Public.