The Healing Power of Data + Analytics

Technology   |   Lori Misenhimer   |   Nov 16, 2020

More than 200,000 women and children in the west African nation of Togo receive life-saving medical care from Integrate Health. In turn, the nonprofit relies on an accurate, comprehensive view of health trends and patient needs to guide its staff in delivering high-quality services at the lowest possible cost.

In the course of treating patients, Integrate Health collects a staggering array of data that can shed light on broader healthcare trends and reveal unmet medical needs in Togolese communities. For years, though, the nonprofit struggled to liberate much of its usable information trapped in spreadsheets, paper forms, hard drives, and unconnected databases.

Integrate Health is overcoming that challenge — and advancing its mission to end preventable childhood diseases and maternal deaths in Togo — with the help of Alteryx Analytic Process Automation (APA).

From headquarters down to each local clinic, Integrate Health teams can compile and share more reliable insights in far less time using the new software. And greater confidence in the data ultimately leads to better care nationwide.

“Alteryx is what allows us to get all that data into one place. It has really changed us from being an inward-focused organization, with a fairly small footprint, to one that thinks nationally and is able to do much more important work.”

— Patrick Aylward, Chief Operating Officer, Integrate Health

Turning the tide on killer diseases and health issues

Founded in 2004, during the height of the HIV epidemic in Togo, Integrate Health helped turn AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable disease for Togolese
residents. Since then, the nonprofit has broadened its primary-care focus to combating other prevalent killers such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, malnutrition, and childbirth complications.

However, its limited access to key operational and patient data sources put stubborn obstacles in Integrate Health’s path toward reaching morepeople with lifesaving treatment.

“We were almost completely blind to trends beyond maybe the past two or three months at a specific clinic,” says data analyst Dédé Marie-José Ekoue. “The data was essentially meaningless, because it required so much time to pull out of 25 spreadsheets living in different places.”

Ekoue and two colleagues spent 80-90% of their time on data entry, aggregation and cleansing tasks. Generating a report from Integrate Health’s disparate information sources sometimes took weeks. And since the nonprofit lacked access to Togo Ministry of Health data, its staff members had to build their own knowledge of the local healthcare environment each time they began working in a new community.

“Showing the national authorities that our programs are effective was extremely difficult,” says Ekoue. “We had no way to compare our results with what was happening in that clinic before.”

Better information fuels life-saving improvements in patient care

Aylward and Ekoue first learned about Alteryx from Seth Cochran, founder of the nonprofit Operation Fistula, which provides obstetric care to women in Madagascar. Upon seeing a demonstration of the Alteryx Analytic Process Automation (APA) Platform™, “everybody was saying, ‘All right — we need more of this,’” Aylward recalls.

Through the Alteryx for Good program, which provides free or discounted software licenses to nonprofits, Integrate Health implemented an entirely new platform for using data to drive
better-informed decisions and report on the organization’s results. Since launching Alteryx combined with Tableau data visualization software in October 2019, Integrate Health has automated its data workflows and eliminated at least 100 hours of manual data preparation tasks each month. “What used to take weeks, we can now do with one click of a button,” Aylward says. “It’s been real magic for our team in Togo.”

Since there is almost no need for staff members to copy and paste data from multiple sources by hand, Integrate Health sees fewer errors and greater consistency in its overall reporting. The Alteryx APA Platform also enables Integrate Health to organize, store, retrieve, and present data in a more consistent way.

The nonprofit can now share data freely with the national Ministry of Health’s information systems. “We have two and a half years of data for all 1,200 healthcare centers in Togo,” Aylward says. ”That allows us to clearly show how our interventions are improving the quality of patient care at a clinic over time.”

Along with demonstrating continuous improvement through its programs, Integrate Health also needs to assure the Ministry of Health that it can deliver effective services on a tight budget. “Because we’ve built this system with Alteryx and Tableau, we can easily give the authorities factual proof that we are reaching more children and mothers,” Okoue says. “I see those trends in the data much more clearly and quickly now.”

For example, Integrate Health recently verified that the number of preventative-care consultations with children under age 5 has risen by an average of 240% in communities where the nonprofit conducts its interventions.

Earlier in 2020, data that Okoue and her team crunched using Alteryx helped the nonprofit identify previously hidden patterns in the seasonal and regional outbreaks of malaria across Togo. Armed with those insights, Integrate Health can now ensure it provides enough anti-malarial drugs and insecticide-treated netting to the right communities and at the right times of year.

“We are getting much more precise in our interventions,” Okoue says. “We can place our community health workers exactly where they need to be.”

Expanding medical outreach at a healthy pace

With nearly all of its clinical data consolidated in Alteryx and linked to the Ministry of Health systems, Integrate Health’s next goals include bringing other information sources into this environment.

For instance, the nonprofit conducts door-to-door surveys of about 13,000 Togolese households each year to better understand local health issues and identify barriers to delivering effective care. “We’re getting to the point where we can merge those survey findings with our program data and make even more targeted improvements,” Aylward says.

Staff members are starting to use smartphones and other handheld digital tools in place of paper forms to collect data, which they can then share directly with Alteryx. The nonprofit recently trained nearly 80 of its community health workers in using Alteryx tools during their consultations with patients.

The technology has also flagged other trends, such as an unexpected decline in the number of pregnant women who returned to a particular clinic for prenatal care or to give birth. In that instance, community workers were able to follow up quickly and provide additional support to help resolve the issue.

Integrate Health sees even greater benefits ahead as its teams continue to explore capabilities within the Alteryx APA Platform. “Being able to pick up exactly the data they need, when and where it is needed, will enable our teams to make better decisions in the field,” Okoue says. “Alteryx creates the connections that allow us to bring all our knowledge together in one place.”


Nonprofits: Interested in learning more about the Alteryx For Good program? Apply here.