Virgin Care improved patient care and reporting with Tableau

Health care is increasingly data-driven and careful analysis can uncover ways to improve patient care, patient experience ad overall operations. In these three videos, Waseem Ali, Group Performance & Information Manager for Virgin Care discusses the importance of using data to improve healthcare, the Tableau adoption process (video 2), and his company's experience with Tableau Server (video 3).

Tableau & healthcare data

Tableau: Medicine is driven more and more by technology. How does Tableau help you turn data into intelligence? Waseem Ali, Group Performance & Information Manager: Using intelligence from data makes a difference to the whole patient life cycle and actually, in turn, helps us improve our services a little bit better. We have about 230-odd services within Virgin Care. And -- and to kind of lead on the reporting and the analysis and everything that we kind of send on to the NHS after that to kind of centralize that and try and report on it. So I've got a team responsible for all of that. And Tableau is a very, very big part of that. Tableau: Is Tableau allowing you to do use data in new ways? Waseem: We're starting to do more operational reports for our individual services. Allowing our managers to help use the data to manage our service better and make improvements so that we can kind of improve the experience for the patient at the end of the day. The impact that Tableau's had within Virgin Care has been substantial I think in the sense that the visibility of the data that people are getting now is far greater than they've ever done before. So if there are problematic areas, teams within the organization can actually go in and find out what's going on. So we're kind of -- I think the impact has been that it's encouraging a lot more people to use the data to help improve our services and see where we're doing well as well, because that's just as important. Tableau: What sort of things are you finding with Tableau? Waseem: We used our reporting mechanism to highlight an issue. And then the specialist team went away and found the problem and has worked on a solution that they're working on. Tableau: What was the response when you introduced the software to hospital staff: Waseem: We're a Virgin company, so we always try and innovate. And so Tableau was one of the big innovations that we kind of invested into in 2012. I think the initial reaction for our colleagues within Virgin Care when they first see Tableau is usually, "Wow." And it's like, okay, I'm seeing the data in a totally different way.

I think life without Tableau will be very, very difficult because I think we've done a good job at spreading the culture of insight into data and intelligence, I think it will almost be a case of taking a number of steps back. Not even one step back, a number of steps back.

The Tableau adoption experience

Tableau: Did you consider other BI solutions? Waseem: We did go out and we did get free samples of kind of the free downloads of various different BI tools out there— I don't think I need to mention any of them. We downloaded a lot of them, and actually we gave it to our analysts and we said, "You know what? Go away. Give me something. Create me something out of it." And the quickest and the easiest tool to use was Tableau. Within half an hour of not knowing Tableau, our analysts were able to deliver dashboards, which was fantastic. Tableau: How many different services or systems are using Tableau? Waseem: Virgin Care's unique in the sense that we've got lots of different services and lots of different service types. And we've got lots of different systems for the different service types we have. And the way the business model works, we inherit systems as we win services. And so in terms of quantity of data, probably won't be able to give you an exact on that, but we are -- we are churning thousands and thousands, hundreds of thousands of rows of information. We're currently connecting to a SQL data warehouse. And we've got a couple of data warehouses that we connect Tableau to, and we're using that for reporting purposes. Again, just because of the pure nature of our business, we do sometimes take on services or win services that have Excel-based systems. We can do kind of quick wins through connecting Tableau to Excel and I think one of the key features is the blending of the data. So we can connect to SQL, we can connect to Excel, and we can blend it all together. Tableau: How did you implement the software? Did you run a trial before expanding its use? Waseem: When we first started Tableau, we made the decision to kind of pilot it with our executive team and kind of share Tableau with them and share the benefits of Tableau with them. And kind of from that, the executive team really liked the reports that we were producing, liked the visibility of the data they were seeing and kind of the flexibility of the tool. And it kind of cascaded down the organization from there. At the moment, we have probably about 500-odd users that -- that are on Tableau Server. We're producing a number of reports for our exec and our board and kind of a few layers down as well, which shows basically what we've managed to do through Tableau is centralize all information for our 230-odd services and report it through one medium, and Tableau being that medium.

VirginCare on Tableau Server

Tableau: What aspect of the software has been most valuable for you? Waseem: Tableau Server was always an important part of implementing Tableau in our organization. And I think the most -- the most benefits and the kind of most important part of it is that users can go online and see their reports. They don't need to go onto -- some sort of connection or view a report through a file. It's just all online, and they can interact online. As an analytical team—and I think a lot of people will relate to me when I say this—is actually whenever you produce a report for someone and send it out, the answer is always, "You know what? That's great, but we would also like this." Tableau: How has Tableau affected your daily work? Waseem: The impact that Tableau has kind of had on me and kind of the work that I do is just the ability to sit there and create analytics within minutes and not spend hours looking at Excel data sets and manipulating information using pivot tables doing that. I can literally do it in seconds. And I've actually sat in meetings where people have been questioning data and done real, live analytics there and then, which makes a massive impact to any meeting. I always take my laptop with me so that I can there and then do analytics on any service improvement plans that we're making. I can produce stats there and then, which saves on workload for the team and it's less headache for me. Life without Tableau? I think life without Tableau will be very, very difficult because I think we've done a good job at spreading the culture of insight into data and intelligence, I think it will almost be a case of taking a number of steps back. Not even one step back, a number of steps back.