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Dashboards: Having Fun with Widgets and Dashboard Creation

Dashboards were one of the tools in DRVS that eluded me when I worked in a health center. I had a hard time getting started, wasn’t sure exactly what to create, and never felt like I had the time to work with them.  Since joining Azara last year, I’ve debunked my previous thoughts and fears, and dare I say dashboards are actually fun to create.  With these tips, I’m hoping I can help you feel the same way.

What is a dashboard?

A dashboard is a visualization of measure data.  Dashboards can be used to provide an at a glance report of the status of measures, provide actionable data to improve patient care or performance results, and many other functions.  There are several widgets available for use with DRVS dashboards and each widget has a number of options for customization. Dashboards can be used to help tell a story about your data—much more so than any single measure result or scorecard can do on its own.

How do I get started creating a custom dashboard?

BEFORE you open DRVS and get started, it’s important to first identify:

  1. Who is your audience for this dashboard?  Do you have more than one?
  2. Should this dashboard be informative or actionable?  Or maybe both?
  3. What measures do you need to display?
  4. What does your audience need to know about those measures?
  5. Are there other pieces of data you need to display to give your measures context?

How can I customize widgets?

Don’t be fooled by the short list of widgets available when you click the Add Widget button. Within each widget type you can make several customizations.  For example, the Line Chart widget can be displayed as a line chart, table, bar chart, or column chart.  You can also configure the Percent of Total widget to create a pie chart.

Another item that is sometimes overlooked is the ability to choose the measure component you want to display for each widget.  It’s not always the % result that is important.  Let’s say you’re creating a dashboard for childhood immunizations and want to show how many children less than or equal to 2 years in age that you have seen so far in 2020.  You could add the Counter widget and show the denominator component.  This patient count widget would help provide context for the other metrics you chose on the dashboard.

Another great trick is to use the Grouping option within a widget to group the measure component by specific criteria such as race, ethnicity, provider group, or many others.

 Why might I need more than one dashboard for the same measures?

I often work with health centers that want one dashboard to display their quality goals for the year, but I like to get centers thinking that two dashboards may be more helpful.

One dashboard would be used by QI leadership.  This dashboard would have largely informative data and be focused on presentation.  For example, you may have a count of patients seen at the center, gauge widgets with targets to show progress on performance, and comparison tables to show the measures results broken down by provider or location.  Associating targets with your measure will give many colorful insights into your data in a quick and easy way.

The second dashboard would be an actionable dashboard used by the clinical teams to improve the quality measures.  This dashboard would show counts for the patients in the gap that require outreach.  The clinical team could click the number in the counter widget to see the patient detail necessary to initiate outreach.  You may also display a comparison chart so the clinical team knows how they are doing compared to the overall health center or other provider teams—grouping the widget by provider group (hint: you’ll need to create provider groups through the Provider Admin).

This is a great opportunity to create and use shared filters so each provider or clinical team can more easily filter to just their data.  Shared filters allow you to create one dashboard that can be viewed by provider/clinical team/provider group by selecting the shared filter.  Shared filters are also necessary for e-mail subscriptions, which let you automatically e-mail the dashboard to your team on a schedule that you create.

Some final tips before you dive in.

  • Play!  You cannot break anything, so just put some data up there to get started.  Test different widgets until you are comfortable with the story the dashboard tells and how it looks.  Remember you can always disable your dashboard until you are ready for others to see it.
  • Get feedback from your audience.  Roll out the dashboard you created to a few members of your audience and get feedback on usability and readability.  Make adjustments and roll it out to more people (a dashboard PDSA!).
  • Utilize these valuable resources in DRVS Help:

Did you create something awesome that you want to brag about? Share it with us! We’d love to see and hear about what you’re doing with dashboards.