How to Use Data More Effectively in Health Care Organizations
Five (5) presentations are described below.

Scroll down for descriptions of each of these presentations.


Many organizations are awash in data yet much of these data are presented in a way that is not useful in identifying problem areas, highlighting possible solutions, and inducing needed change.  This presentation utilizes examples from a variety of areas and includes two complex case studies using real hospital data to illustrate how to better identify and solve problems.  The key is to use data to determine exactly where to intervene. If you define the problem precisely using data, you're more than half way to solving it, as the case studies clearly demonstrate.
The presentation also shows how what's important is not how much data you collect but how informative the data are. In an additional case study, again using real data, just one day's data made a compelling case for changing hospital procedures.

One example from the presentation - a sequence of seven charts all drawn using exactly the same data.   As the charts evolve, a different picture emerges.

The chart below (the first in the series of seven) presents raw data; as you can see no clear pattern is evident.

Contrast this with the following chart which is the last slide in the seven slide sequence and which presents net change information.  Exactly the same data; very different picture.  In this chart it's clear that in the last six months the clinic has had a net loss of a large number of patients.

The first chart presents data; the last chart presents information - and this information will induce change (if the clinic manager wants to keep his/her job). 
As this presentation clearly shows using several real hospital examples, if you identify a problem precisely using data, you're more than halfway to solving it. The data will show you the way if - AND ONLY IF - you convert these data into information.

Length: 1 1/4 hours


Microsoft Office contains a bewildering array of over six dozen different chart types and variations. Staff are often confused by which of these chart types and variations are most appropriate for their data and often create charts that require "mental gymnastics" on the part of the observer to obtain the information of interest to them. Furthermore, books on chart design indicate that many of the chart options available should never be used. One chart variation that should never be used accounts for almost half of all Microsoft chart variations!!

This workshop begins with considerations of the effective use of slide space, chart junk, templates, and mental gymnastics in charts. Did you know, for example, that a PowerPoint slide is 7.5" by 10" regardless of whether it is viewed on a 10" netbook or projected on a 40' screen? Once you know this you can easily determine what percentage of each slide is devoted to key information and what percentage is wasted space.

After these general considerations, attendees work through the selection and format of the most appropriate charts for five different types of data. The primary focus is on the major and most frequently used chart types (column, bar, line, pie, and scatter): when to use each and what errors to avoid with each. An overview of the pluses and minuses of the less frequently used chart types (area, stock, surface, doughnut, bubble, and radar) is also provided.

One example. The two charts below, selected from the Microsoft menu of line charts, are drawn using exactly the same data. Yet, the picture is quite different. Why? Which is better?

The workshop concludes by showing attendees how to animate charts "the clunky way" using a technique the attendees already know and with exactly the same appearance and more flexibility than the Microsoft chart animation tool.  I use the clunky way almost exclusively in my presentations and attendees are usually amazed at how simple it is.  Animation is a powerful tool that should not be used to dazzle audiences. Rather it can be used very effectively either to maintain audience focus on the points you are making as you are making them or to create a dramatic effect which will make your point more memorable.  The clunky way can be used to animate not only charts but other graphics and diagrams as well.

Here are some examples of what my workshop covers.

3D Charts may look good but they are very poor at communicating information:


Here's a video clip from this presentation. Although this clip was not from a live presentation and therefore it lacks the dynamism of that setting, it demonstrates how effective PowerPoint can be without using bullet point slides.

How to calculate your effective use of space on an individual slide:

The handout for this workshop is an 11 page PDF of the major things to consider for each of the 11 types of Microsoft charts. It also includes references with recommended readings.

If you would like to receive a fee copy of "Rules for Charts" (an 11 page PDF), just email me and I'll be happy to email it to you.    Smith1862@optonline.net

Length: 1 1/4 hours.


A not uncommon refrain is "I took one course in statistics and I hated it!" Recall, perhaps, your own experience with Statistics 101. Following a discussion of descriptive statistics, two thirds of the remaining time was devoted to the underpinnings of statistics (probability, combinations, permutations, binomial and other distributions) followed by a few precious weeks on chi square, t tests, analysis of variance, and nonparametric statistics - the real business of statistical inference. This was followed by a final exam where you were given a formula sheet and you just hoped and prayed that you'd be lucky enough to pick the correct formulas for each problem! Coming out of that course, the one thing you knew for sure is that you never wanted to go near statistics again.

This presentation will help to bring staff a greater appreciation and understanding of basic statistics. It begins by showing what correlations are, what they tell us about the data and, most importantly, what they don't tell us.

The discussion of statistical inference begins with the realization that every day we make decisions under conditions of uncertainty ("educated guesses") and that decision-making (inferential) statistics are just more formal - and actually quite logical and transparent - processes for doing this (see sample slides below). Using humor and simple illustrations, it covers the logic and usefulness of standard deviations, confidence intervals, and t tests and will enable staff to better apply these statistics and understand them in reports they read.   It also shows how to calculate correlations and t tests easily in Excel.

We make inferences all the time.


Statistics just makes these inferences mathematically.

The point of statistical inference-making is to discern the truth above the clouds.


Length: 1 1/4 hours.

(3 modules)

If you need a refresher course in basic statistics or even a first exposure, this set of modules will fit the bill. It is a more in-depth and comprehensive treatment than "Statistics for Non-Statisticians." Each of these modules contains simple, interactive, and convincing PowerPoint animated expositions which assure an understanding of the statistics covered. It requires no complex calculations but relies on the ability of Excel to compute results.

"Visualizing" the statistics facilitates understanding and enables retention. Here are screen shots of three animated slides that show how several measures of variability are computed.

Average Deviation.
Each of the differences from the mean summed and divided by the number of values.

Each of the differences from the mean squared before being added.


Standard Deviation
The square root of the variance.


The emphasis on visualization of statistics not only helps to understand what the statistic is but also greatly aids in the retention of the information. Very few can remember columns of numbers but many can remember pictures.

Module 1 - Descriptive Statistics (1 hour)
What is the best measure of central tendency for a set of data? (Answer: It depends on the data.)
What is the best measure of the variability of a set of data? (Answer: In most situations one of the measures is best.)
What does the correlation between two sets measures tell us and what does it not tell us? (Answer: A correlation, even a perfect correlation of 1.00, tells us absolutely nothing about the means of the two sets of data or about any causation between the two variables.)
Is it difficult to use formulas in Excel to calculate these statistics? (Answer: Not at all. A few easily remembered key strokes will do the job.)

Module 2 - Hypothesis Testing (1 hour)
Why do we test a hypothesis using statistical tests and what do they tell us? (Answer: The truth above the clouds.)
When should you use a t Test and how can you compute it easily in Excel?
When should you use Non-Parametric tests (including the Chi Square test) and how complex are they? (Answer: Non-parametric tests are less complex than the common statistical tests based on the normal curve distribution. In fact, many non-parametric tests can be calculated simply using just a pencil and paper.)

Module 3 - Linear Regression (1 hour)
Is Linear Regression as obtuse and complex as it sounds? (Answer: Not at all.)
What is the slope of a line? (It's actually quite simple.)
What is the intercept of a line? (It's actually quite simple.)
How can I calculate the formula for a least squares line through a set of data points? (Answer: One click in Excel will do the trick.)

Again, pictures help......

If you can remember the picture below - and you'll surely remember it longer than you would an equation - you won't forget the difference between the slope and the intercept.


Bullets.....bullets.....bullets. Do staff merely convert their "speaker's notes" into a PowerPoint presentation? This may be helpful to the speaker but from an audience point of view, the result is a deadening progression of bullet point slides that they could have read by themselves. "Death by PowerPoint" is the result.

The real value of PowerPoint is its ability to enhance the learning experience for the audience. Giving presentations with PowerPoint involves two channels of communication (verbal and visual) and both must be utilized to the fullest to achieve the maximum impact. This presentation shows how to create a PowerPoint presentation that reinforces your message and engages your audience.

For some speakers the visual display is their speaker's notes. What the audience sees and what they hear are identical - essentially converting a two channel process of communication into a single channel.

Contrast this with a visual display which incorportes pictures, tables, graphics for the audience's benefit, illustrating what is said and making it more understandable, interesting and memorable.
Both the verbal and the visual channels of communication are used to the fullest.


This is not a presentation on advanced
PowerPoint techniques (which would soon be forgotten) and it's definitely not a presentation on how to use PowerPoint templates. Rather, it uses some of the basic PowerPoint techniques that most staff already know - and that I use in my own presentations - to achieve the desired effects. Staff will learn how to utilize these techniques in ways they didn't realize to make their presentations more interesting, informative, and memorable.

Length: 1 1/4 hours.