Why Data is Terrific, and Makes a Great Case!

I confess, I’m a data geek, and love seeing what technology and software have done for data.  In short, they’ve made data (which geeks love) come alive in charts and graphs for the average practitioner (who doesn’t want to be burdened by a ton of print).  Some of these charts are even interactive, showing trends and changes in data.  It’s like a data movie! Data movie links are below, so read or scroll your way to the exciting ways that data is now made live.

It’s always helpful for providers, government and foundation staffers, and consultants to have ready reference resources for data. In today’s fast-changing internet and social media environment, data collection can still be a challenge. However, there are many excellent models and evidence based practices (EBPs) for data collection criteria, and there are increasingly powerful software and media resources for analyzing and presenting data in such a way that people “get it.”

Data Collection Criteria

Most planning and analysis projects collect the following types of data:

1. General demographic data on people living in the region, usually in subsets that disaggregate data by age, income, race and ethnicity, primary language spoken at home, gender, family size, educational attainment, and other factors.  This is critical data to knowing the details about the people living in a specific region, and trends.

2.Community needs as determined through community needs assessments (CNAs), community health needs assessments (CHNAs) and other research and reports.

3.Services and gaps as determined through CNAs and CHNAs, or through other work that has been done to list services available for people living in the region, most of which would be located in the region (though some may be in larger cities that serve many people in the region).  Services are often defined by criteria developed by related federal and state governmental bureaus, and related professional associations. For example, services provided in health care follow a specific taxonomy outlined by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and the Bureau for Primary Health Care, as well as state  and local departments of health, state and local primary care professional associations, and information and data integration providers. The taxonomy of service definitions that are used to gather data is being increasingly standardized by these large institutions for a number of reasons. For decades, funders, contractors, and accreditation agencies often required different data elements for outcomes, evaluation and reporting, which created data silos for agencies and a loss of productivity. Part of standardization is a response to this issue, as well as a response to the trend toward greater agency accountability to provide data on outcomes, and the impact of increasing access to technology and data tools.

For more information about criteria and evidence based practices (EBPs), go to my website:

Data Reporting Models and Examples

There are many excellent models for presenting data, charts and graphs in a way that clearly illustrate needs, issues, trends.  The following are a few examples of data charts that provide information in such a way the key issues and trends literally “jump out” and grab the reader with the important message.

See what you think of these examples: