Beyond Trends: Graphics for Decision Support
It is common to encounter the claim that graphical representation can make data easier to understand, especially large data sets. Large data sets are common in monitoring situations, from nuclear power plants to the operating room. With the rapid proliferation of electronic monitoring devices and the rapid decrease in the cost of computing, we in health care increasingly have the ability to record, store, and manipulate patient data, yet even as we do so we suspect that there may be more useful information within that data than we are discovering. Useful information is gold, because it can be translated into better decisions — decisions that either improve health outcomes or yield outcomes just as good as at present but at lower cost. Thus the claim that graphical representation can reveal useful information in a mountain of patient data is an important claim. It is worthwhile to consider two such claims in some detail, then to go on to analyze exactly why some graphics improve decision making while others do not.
KeywordsLine Graph Medical Information System Metabolic Decompensation Reference Shape Polar Graph
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