5 Keys to Self-Service Reporting in Healthcare

data visualization

In my post, How to Empower Healthcare with Data Visualization, I addressed the criticality of a data visualization strategy. I also outlined key steps to take to move the organization towards a modern self-service analytics culture.In this post, let’s dig deeper into self-service reporting in healthcare.Self-service reporting enables people to ask and answer questions by querying data and creating reports and dashboards without involving the IT organization or a highly trained business intelligence (BI) team. The goal is to improve outcomes for patients and improve the operations of the healthcare organization by making data-driven decisions.So, what are the keys to self-service reporting?

five keys to self-service reporting success

Define the value of self-service reporting.

This seems obvious. But it’s an often-skipped step. What is the benefit or value of self-service reporting to the healthcare organization? Can it enable better decisions by providers and improve patient care? Will it streamline the analysis of supply chain data to reduce cost for the providers? Will it enable case managers to more quickly identify patients or populations that require intervention? What is the business value to the organization and how will you quantify that value?

Implement solid data governance.

Governance creates confidence in the data. Confidence is key to enrolling people in the vision for self-service reporting across the organization. IT provides huge value by providing controls and security to protect data and content. Properly executed governance is a critical enabler of self-service reporting success.Users need to trust the accuracy and security of the data. That’s huge for enabling a culture of self-service. Both IT and business stakeholders are responsible for defining the governance structure. But IT will implement and manage it. Operational personnel will be more self-reliant and productive in the trusted environment that proper governance creates. We’ll cover more on this topic in future posts. One can right-size the data and content governance model to empower people, not limit them.

Easy data access.

In healthcare or any other organization, self-service reporting only works when users connect to data easily. If they need IT to set up their laptop with proper authentication to hit a centralized database, it’s going to create too much friction and additional work for both the business user and IT. A solution like Tableau Server is a much better way to enable people quick and easy access to data. It also supports the governance issues discussed above. People can access trusted and certified data sources through Tableau Server. Enabling people to use a web interface or other easy tools eliminates friction in the process of accessing data. If it’s easy, they’ll go interact with the data.

Great analytics tools.

We’re in a time where powerful & easy-to-use tools to work with data are plentiful. Companies like Tableau and Microsoft continue to invest heavily to make their software even easier to use. Great analytics software enables those closest to the data to answer their questions. Be sure to select tools that don’t require advanced coding experience. Those are great for the data science team, but not for the average user. With easy access to data and the right tools, any person can generate insights from data with minimal training.

Nurture the community.

Too many times I’ve seen a company invest in a data warehouse but not invest in people, process, and technology to ensure that the data will be used by the organization. The larger the organization is, the more important it is to create a community of people who are using the self-service reporting tools to come together, share successes, and learn from each other. It’s important to identify a person to lead and nurture this community early.Remember, not everyone has the same level of abilities and experience to work with data. It’s not enough to just give people tools and access to data. You need to implement a training program to give all employees the chance to walk through use of the self-service application. With a little training and others around for support, you’ll see amazing things happen. Encourage the community to share wins. Don’t create a culture where everyone’s dependent on a few power users. That just shifts the burden from IT who most likely had a long queue of custom queries and reports to run into another group.


Data discovery and gathering of insights is a naturally iterative process. Self-service reporting increases the speed to insight by taking IT or a dedicated analytics group (both of which have other important roles) out of the loop. People who know the data can work with the data quickly to get answers. This article by Bernard Marr in Forbes makes a compelling case that “Self-service analytics should be a complement to a data science team, not a replacement.” I agree. Healthcare organizations need to empower people throughout the organization for self-service reporting. And there’s a role for a team of BI experts to work on deeper questions and help others with some of the more challenging analyses. How does your organization line up with the keys to self-service reporting?