One of the more interesting aspects of my nursing clinical rotations in a wide array of settings was having the opportunity to use the different electronic charting systems in the various hospital groups. Since I came from a somewhat technical background, I found the ability to work with mobile charting a much more convenient way to organize information than the old paper methods.
But one of the things I also noticed was that the charting systems (and, pretty much all the clinical systems), were limited by the reporting and analytics tools that were baked in by programmers completely removed from the hospital environment.
If we wanted to see if there were trends in particular areas not designed into the pre-built reports, we were completely out of luck. Oh, sure. We could make a request to the IT department, and they'd probably (if they had time) turn in a feature request to the software maker. But you know as well as I do about the odds of getting a new feature back in anything resembling a timely manner.
That's why I'm very intrigued by the features described in the video below. According to UK clinical information systems company Ascribe, the new Microsoft SQL Server 2012, combined with SharePoint 2010, is giving them a way to provide medical professionals (administrative as well as clinical) with a way to customize their own reports, and develop their own drag-and-drop data analytics.
Here's where this is exciting. We often collect data, but we don't always know in advance how we want to look at it. Take, for example, a disease vector. Let's say we're trying to track down some new illness that we've never seen before. It's incredibly exciting to be able to go into the data we've already got, and explore and sift through it, looking for clues.
If we're able to get data analysis into the hands of clinical professionals, we open the door to very exciting avenues of on-demand data-based research.