Data Visualization And Why All Healthcare Marketers Should Care

In a world where we are bombarded by information, targeted by mass media and social networks, what can we do to make our message heard? How can healthcare, DTC and consumer marketers dimensionalize communications in a way that draws attention and focuses learning to important information and messaging?

Data visualization provides an increasingly powerful means to not only communicate information clearly and effectively, but the wise will consider it critical to help position their companies and brands in digital marketing today.

As outlined by FFunction in it’s report ‘Data Visualization: How To Position Your Company in Digital Marketing’, “The power of visualizations comes from the fact that they stimulate the brain in a different way, by focusing attention on the sensorial and rational sides simultaneously. They act as a discovery game that incites one to focus on the displayed information that might otherwise be left unnoticed.”

This is further supported by Dr. John Medina in his work, Brain Rules: Rule#10 Vision Trumps All Other Senses.

Other recent articles: Ad Age Digital’s Why Data Visualization is About To Become Very Important for Your Brand by Oren Frank, AdWeek’s: Seeing is Believing by Bob Greenwood and NYTimes: When The Data Stuts Its Self by Natasha Singer provide additional support for this growing field.

One has only to watch the animated statistics -developed by Dr. Rosling and Gapminder- to show the disparities in health and wealth around the world to see the power of advanced animation visualization  to help viewers spot trends on their own. Dr. Rosling’s video clip from the BBC on health and wealth statistics has been viewed more than four million times on YouTube.

As Natasha Singer writes, “Visual analytics play off the idea that the brain is more attracted to and able to process dynamic images than long lists of numbers.  But the goal of information visualization is not simply to represent millions of bits of data as illustrations. It is to prompt visceral comprehension, moments of insight that make viewers want to learn more.

“The purpose of visualization is insight, not pictures”, says Ben Shneiderman, founding director of the Human-computer Interaction Laboratory at the University of Maryland.

The growing field of ‘data visualization’ (DaViz), beyond its original roots in academia and science, has implications for companies, governments, marketers, agencies…For just about anybody who wants to convey  huge amounts of information in visual, interactive displays.

  • Can data itself become an asset of a brand and a pillar to visually enhance the brand’s story? Can DaViz even suggest a new product idea?
  • Can DaViz help garner attention and encourage learning and action?  Should it be included in every new creative brief to act as a strong reminder for creative exploration?
  • What opportunities can DaViz offer for pharma companies as they think about how to most clearly communicate and motivate consumers, doctors and even sales people?  For example, could ‘tree mapping’ offer unique ways to more clearly communicate and motivate sales reps?
  • Does DaViz offer unique opportunities to create next generation dashboards that can help consumers better understand lots of data and increase positive behavior? e.g.: making sense of daily blood sugar scores, exercise regimens, cholesterol numbers etc.

But like anything, there are benefits and risks.  With Data Visualization, customers can become more engaged when visuals help them filter information and allow them to make discoveries on their own.

On the risk side, Professor Shneiderman warns that tools as powerful as visualization have the potential to mislead, or confuse consumers.  And privacy implications can arise as increasing amounts of personal, medical, financial data… become widely accessible, searchable and viewable.[via NYTimes article]

But given how our digital society is evolving, with data being produced at an exceptional rate, I think it is undeniable that DaViz will become increasingly important to each and every marketer and business person today. It is poised to become an important element of brand marketing going forward.


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Illustrations: 1) The World of Data, Oliver Munday for, October, 2010; published by A Lapierre and S Pierre 11 25 2010, Data Visualization- How to Position Your Company in Digital Marketing.  2) What is Data Visualization? Infographic explaining data visualization, visually. See below.

2 thoughts on “Data Visualization And Why All Healthcare Marketers Should Care

  1. This article is very timely. I run a private practice where I like to disseminate large amounts of information , more than I can effect y convey in the confines of a 20 minute office visit. I have unknowingly implemented DaViz by using high definition screens to educate patients about health, nutrition as well as services that I provide that patients my not be aware of. This information is conveyed in a unobtrusive silent way which doesn’t interfere with my face to face time with patients. In addition we a physicians also benefit from receiving an ADA tax incentive for providing this information to patient who otherwise may not be able to receive it.

    Thank you Mrs. Hoenig for your interesting and useful posts.

    Dr. Alec Hochstein
    Follow me on Twiitter @iPodiatrist

    • Thank you for your feedback! For sure DaViz is as relevant for doctors as it is for marketers where you too only have a few minutes to create interest and learning.

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