Data Governance

4 Tips For Impactful Data Storytelling

Creating visuals that can turn your data into a story with meaning, emotions, is an art that needs to be considered in your healthcare organization.

Data storytelling combines both data and story when creating any visualizations to help users communicate their ideas in a clear, understandable, and effective approach.

One may wonder why data storytelling is needed in the healthcare industry when all professionals care about are the outcomes. Nowadays, there is a need to go beyond the financial, clinical, or operational performance to show the bigger picture, encourage an actionable reaction, and drive a meaningful change. Patient care can be drastically improved when analytics can humanize data through storytelling to add context, emotion, and background about the patients that will be directly impacted by the decisions.

In this article, we will show you 4 tips for impactful data storytelling.


Tip 1: Know your audience

Before starting to build any visualizations, it is critical to know who you are delivering it for. Your message will be translated more efficiently without communicating any unnecessary information that could confuse the wrong audience. For that, you need to answer these questions:


- Who? Identify a specific audience for rewarding communication that will meet your audience’s needs and echo with them.


- What? Identify what you need your audience to know or do. Since you are working with the data, then you are the subject matter expert. Elicit a conversation that could lead to an actionable reaction from the audience.


- How? Identify what data will help you translate your message.


Tip 2: Create a purpose

After identifying your audience, your story should have a clear purpose whether it is to inform, persuade, or educate. Adding story elements such as a plot, characters, and conflict will help to engage your audience and make the data story memorable. When an emotional connection is established with your audience, professionals will remember how the story made them feel and an actionable reaction will be ensured. Build a patient persona and show how the decisions can have an impact on his/her care, not only on specific metrics.


Tip 3: Add a simple text to your visuals

In her book, Storytelling with Data, Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic recommends adding a mix of numbers and supporting words to your visuals to enhance your story communication. A simple text can provide context to your audience, clarify any complex number, and serve as a label for your charts. It will make the visual more accessible for viewers who may have difficulty with visual comprehension. Use this tip sparingly to avoid any clutters.


Tip 4: Leverage pre-attentive attributes

If you want your audience to stay focused on your story, it is then recommended to remove anything that does not add informative value or distracts the audience. Pre-attentive attributes are visual cues that grab the viewer's attention and quickly communicate information before they consciously process it. They highlight important information/patterns, direct the viewer's attention to specific elements, and create a more engaging visual experience. They include color, size, shape, and position. These pre-attentive attributes allow you to understand how humans will perceive your visuals and so design them in a strategic approach that will enforce your story.


Creating visuals that can turn your data into a story with meaning, emotions, and an impact is an art that needs to be considered in your healthcare organization. By following the tips we have covered in this article, there is no doubt that your overall process will improve.

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