The Ask the Analyst series is a deep dive into the data by those most familiar with the CO APCD – the analysts themselves. We’ll hear about their experiences with recent analyses and answer any pressing questions that come up. Have a question for the CIVHC Analyst Team? Email it to

Featured Project: These Standard Reports are designed to inform employers about where they are incurring their highest costs and give them the tools to educate, negotiate, and improve their employees’ interactions with the health care system. Current standard employer reports include: Potentially Avoidable ED Use, Low Value Care, and Medicare Reference-based Price Comparisons. Please email Dave Dale at for more information or to set up a demo.

Analyst Name: Emma Anderson

  1. What were your first steps when beginning this analysis?

Since I was tasked with translating an existing methodology and prototype into a dashboard to be used by an audience not comfortable with data or analytics, my first step was to review what work had already been established and assess it with fresh eyes. It was extremely valuable to be able to walk-through a prototype and methodology with the original analyst and at once begin develop an understanding of the subject and purpose of the analysis, while also getting a sense of how a more general audience may feel when they first encounter a similar report.  Gauging my own reactions to what has been built provides me with clear steps and goals to create a final product that can be utilized by those who are not experts in the field.

  1. Were there specific considerations you needed to consider based on the data?

When producing a report for an external stakeholder, my primary consideration is always, “who is the audience for this?”  Before creating any mockups or even diving into the data, it was important to get a sense of who these reports are meant for, what is that audience’s level of comfort with using and understanding data, and ultimately how will the audience use these reports for their own organization and/or purposes.  Building a successful final product is just as much about understanding who will using it as it is about understanding the data you are presenting to them.

  1. What challenges did you encounter while performing the analysis? How did you overcome them?

When you are building a product that must prioritize user experience, to some extent there is always a tension between creating something that is easy to use, simple, and looks clean while also including all of the necessary (and desired) facets of the data. The challenge is to walk a fine line between functionality and form, without having to sacrifice either. Ultimately, I find it rewarding when I am able to create a report that is informative and comprehensive while also maximizing user functionality and experience.

  1. Without delving into results, did anything surprise you about this analysis or the process of executing it?

I did not anticipate how difficult yet vital it would be to place the data and findings into context without overburdening the audience with a cluttered, messy report. Presenting key metrics to an audience is not actionable if they don’t know what their data looks like alongside comparable groups (in this case, varying geographic grouping such as counties and insurance regions). It became clear that users needed to be able to quickly and easily see how their data compared to others around the state and that the user experience would be greatly improved if they could control their own comparison groups in order to enhance their specific insights and usage of the data.

  1. What did you learn while performing this analysis?

I learned that it is important to solicit feedback from a variety of audiences – both internal team members and external stakeholders – and that gathering feedback is not a one-time event but a continual process that necessitates a flexible, evolving data and reporting structure.