Generating value from a sea of data

12 February 2014 | Tom Lawry, Global Product Strategy, Health Analytics

​As I’ve written before, the health industry is drowning in data, yet thirsting for insight. There’s an endless sea of data residing in the systems spread across the health ecosystem. Not to mention, all the health consumer data online and other non-health data that affects population health—such as information on air pollution trends or the availability of healthy food options in a particular region. The challenge is how to make intelligent use of all this data.

That’s where Power BI for Office 365 can help. It provides tools that health professionals can use to generate value from the vast amount of data in the health industry and beyond.

With Power BI for Office 365, we have taken our most powerful business intelligence solutions and built them directly into Microsoft Excel. These solutions package data discovery, analysis, and visualization into one self-service BI solution. So health professionals can get the insight and analysis they need on their own, without having to wait for a data specialist to send it to them.

Right from within Excel, health professionals can quickly and easily:

  • Discover and combine data. Using Power Query—a new online search capability—search and access internal and external data. Clean, transform, and merge data from multiple sources.
  • Model and analyze. Create flexible models that can process large data sets very quickly using the Microsoft SQL Server in-memory database.
  • Visualize. See data in new ways with bold interactive visualizations using Power View and Power Map features.

We’ve made all of these Excel capabilities available in the cloud in Office 365, so customers can share and access their BI models across the desktop, web, and devices—all in a trusted, managed environment.

A number of health organizations, such as Meriter Health Services, are already taking advantage of Power BI to create actionable insights that improve the quality of patient care, outcomes, and resource management. One of the ways that Meriter uses Power BI is to help anticipate and plan for the needs of citizens with chronic diseases in its service area.

Meriter staff use Power Query to easily combine data from the disease registries in their Epic EMR and other external resources such as census data or data from sources like And they use Power Map to create interactive self-service visualizations of data for service planning.

Being able to combine and visualize data in this way, they can map where there is a high concentration of people with certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes.

This insight helps Meriter place health professionals and other community resources where they’re most needed.

In the weeks to come, we’ll share more examples of how the robust, yet easy-to-use capabilities of Power BI are helping health organizations improve care quality and access while lowering costs. So keep checking back here. And to learn more about Power BI, visit, where you can see demos of the different features.

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Tom Lawry
Global Product Strategy, Health Analytics