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Tampa General Hospital Uses Data Visualizations to Combat COVID-19

by Heidi Bullman

Data visualizations played a critical role in combating the initial outbreak of COVID-19. Tampa General Hospital was one healthcare organization that put business intelligence to work to track the virus’s spread in the hospital community, proactively manage resources, and provide insight into federal and state reporting. 

The use of data visualizations amid COVID-19 was the main topic of discussion during Qlik’s Data Revolution Virtual Summit. Combining industry leaders, data innovators, and Qlik executives, the summit explored current and upcoming trends as well as innovations and strategies for accelerating business value with data.

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Mike Badal, a business intelligence/analytics manager, and Chris Fountain, senior business intelligence analyst, spoke during the summit on behalf of Tampa General Hospital. The 957-bed non-profit, located on Davis Island in Tampa, Florida, services not only the Tampa Bay region but all of western Florida. It is also one of the region’s only university-level academic medical centers. And because Tampa General Hospital is an industry leader, their approach to COVID-19 was data-driven and rooted in innovation.

“Going back to the start – February 2020 — we were at a time where COVID-19 was off in the distance,” explained Badal. “We knew there was a disease [gaining traction elsewhere] and then we started to see issues here in Washington State and New York City. We knew then we needed to respond in some way.”

At this time, there wasn’t any testing to track. Recognizing this, the hospital’s IT team started tracking information from respiratory panels as well as implementing a “best practice” alert. According to Badal, the best practice alert was a patient information survey. After collecting this data, experts at Tampa General Hospital used this information to create dashboards, via a business intelligence solution, with the purpose of tracking trends throughout the hospital to ensure there were the capacity and resources needed.

By March, Tampa General had a vast quantity of data at the hospital’s disposal. With this data, they had insight into test vs. hospitalization and cases vs. admissions rates, admissions vs. ICU usage, and the average length of stays. With all this information, clinicians at Tampa General were able to see COVID-19’s direct impact on the hospital and also submit the data for federal and state reporting.

With cases once again spiking around the country, data visualizations will continue to be of great importance for healthcare systems. Initially, they aided in stabilization by providing hospitals like Tampa General with a robust picture of patients, supplies, and capacity. Then the data from these visualizations were used to contribute to the country’s overall picture of COVID-19 by way of state and federal reporting. And with the virus still spreading, the data from these visualizations will continue to tell the story of where it’s making traction and its impact as the United States, and the rest of the world, waits for a vaccine.

Learn more about the use of data visualizations to combat COVID-19 here.

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