Empowering Public Health with Dashboards: Key Design and Implementation Strategies

CoE-EDP, VisionRICoE-EDP, VisionRI | Updated: 19-06-2024 15:39 IST | Created: 19-06-2024 15:39 IST
Empowering Public Health with Dashboards: Key Design and Implementation Strategies
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In a comprehensive study led by Reza Rabiei and his colleagues, the development of public health surveillance dashboards was examined to identify essential design principles. These dashboards serve as critical tools in monitoring and predicting disease outbreaks by continuously tracking community health status. The study involved a scoping review of literature from four databases IEEE, PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus, focusing on articles published between 2010 and 2022.

The Rise of Public Health Dashboards

The research revealed that a significant number of dashboards were developed post-2020, primarily for managing COVID-19 at the national level. The design principles for these dashboards were categorized into five main groups: understanding the aim and target users, content appropriateness, interface design, data analysis and presentation types, and infrastructure.

Tailoring Dashboards to User Needs

The first principle involves clearly defining the dashboard's purpose and understanding its target users. Effective dashboards are tailored to meet the specific needs of their users, ensuring that the displayed information is relevant and actionable. This user-centered approach is crucial for the dashboard's functionality and usability. By understanding who will use the dashboard and for what purposes, designers can ensure that the most critical information is readily accessible and easy to interpret.

The content of a public health dashboard is critical. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be prominently displayed, allowing for timely monitoring and decision-making. The study emphasized the need for dashboards to manage the type, volume, and flow of information effectively, ensuring that users can quickly access and interpret crucial data. This involves organizing information hierarchically, so that macro-level indicators are displayed first, followed by more detailed mezzo and micro-level indicators as needed. The inclusion of relevant data disaggregation options, such as sex and socioeconomic status, can enhance the utility of the dashboard by providing more granular insights.

Designing Intuitive Interfaces

The user interface of a dashboard plays a significant role in its effectiveness. Interactive and visual tools are essential for enhancing user experience. Techniques such as providing an overview of KPIs, enabling zoom and pan functions, and customizing the display based on user needs are vital. The use of various visualization tools, including charts, graphs, and maps, helps in presenting data clearly and concisely. Effective dashboards use visualization techniques that align with the nature of the data and the cognitive abilities of the users. For instance, using color coding to indicate different levels of urgency can help users quickly grasp the situation at a glance.

Effective dashboards support various types of data analysis, such as real-time monitoring, geographic analysis, and trend forecasting. The ability to track and compare data over time is crucial for identifying patterns and making informed decisions. The inclusion of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques can further enhance the predictive capabilities of these dashboards. By linking time trends to policy decisions, dashboards can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of interventions and help guide future actions. Reporting formats, such as generating reports in Word or PDF, can also be tailored to meet the needs of different stakeholders.

Building Robust Infrastructure

The infrastructure supporting a dashboard is foundational to its success. A robust data warehouse is essential for integrating and managing data from various sources. Ensuring data quality, security, and accessibility is paramount. The study highlighted the importance of having a well-designed architecture to facilitate real-time data collection and reporting. This includes ensuring that data is accurate, complete, timely, and reliable. Data integration with online analytical processing systems and the use of standardized data formats can enhance the efficiency and reliability of the dashboard. Security measures, such as encryption and user authentication, are also critical to protect sensitive information.

Overall, the research by Rabiei et al. provides a comprehensive framework for developing effective public health dashboards, which are crucial tools in managing public health crises and improving community health outcomes. The findings suggest that the successful implementation of these dashboards depends on adhering to key design principles that focus on user needs, content management, interface design, data analysis, and robust infrastructure. By prioritizing these elements, public health organizations can develop dashboards that not only enhance surveillance capabilities but also support timely and informed decision-making in response to public health challenges.

A Roadmap for Future Dashboard Development

Monitoring health, managing epidemics, and taking timely action requires real-time information exchange between clinical information systems and public health dashboards. Given the volume of data and the need for real-time monitoring and response, attention to dashboard design principles is essential to achieve public health surveillance goals. The study's findings indicate that design principles for public health dashboards can be presented in five groups: considering aim and target users, appropriate content, interface, data analysis and presentation types, and infrastructure. These principles provide a roadmap for public health policymakers, developers, and organizations to design and develop dashboards that are effective, user-friendly, and capable of supporting the complex needs of public health surveillance and management.

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