Envisioning Health Networks through Real-Time Data Visualization
The Garden of Health
Home to more than 20 hospitals, 250 clinics, and 4,500 care providers, Adventist Health is a non-profit health care organization operating in California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. With its holistic approach to health, Adventist Health's vision is to improve the physical, mental, and spiritual health of their communities by enhancing interactions and making care more accessible. Adventist Health was developing a new campus experience for their new headquarters in Roseville, CA, and had the opportunity to illustrate and communicate their organization quality through data. Specifically, Adventist Health wanted to use the available data to show associates the real-time interactions occurring within the communities that they serve. To bring this idea to life, Adventist Health approached Schema Design with the question, How can data be used to tell a story of real-time care within the Adventist Health network? The goal of the project was to illustrate the diversity of the Adventist Health patients, connections and coordination between the organization’s teams, and productivity throughout the system. Additionally, the visualization would be a part of the lobby experience and act as living art, a piece both beautiful and ambient in nature.
To begin the project, the design team first asked, What does it mean to be healthy? Attempting to answer this question involved investigating multiple understandings of health, and how it varies both historically and culturally. From this research, a distinction emerged: the diverging concepts of the body as a machine, and the body as a garden. This contrast lies between Western and Eastern medicine; the West views the body as a machine, made up of separate parts and dysfunction targeted and treated as it arises, whereas the East views the body as a garden, a unified and self-regulating ecosystem that is directly affected by its surrounding environment and needs to be nurtured as a whole.
These differing perceptions bring two definitions of health: the absence of disease and the presence of normal functioning, versus promoting integrity, adaptability, and continuity within the body. Adventist Health appreciated the idea of treating the body as a garden, and health as something that is holistically cultivated within that garden; this view aligned with their approach to “whole-person health”, as well as with the intent behind their new LEED certified WELL building. This led to the suggestion of placing the “garden” on the wall, framing the project as a living and breathing organism that represents the Adventist Health community and the holistic care it cultivates.
Day to night view
Over the course of five months, the project moved from initial design concept to a fully functioning, continuously updating media wall. The final installation operates with live data from Adventist Health facilities, which provide a three-minute information window that is updated every five seconds.
The end product, "The Garden of Health", is a real-time, data-driven artwork showcasing the breadth, diversity, and dynamics of the Adventist Health network and the communities it serves. Throughout the day, the visualization depicts a live snapshot of patient activity across the entire network. Within the garden, new patients are represented as flowers, positioned according to which Adventist community location is serving them. Flower types reflect the different categories of patient encounters, such as clinic visits or trips to the emergency room. The size and complexity of the flower indicates the patient’s age; for example, younger patients are represented by smaller, simpler flowers. Additionally, the patient’s sex is indicated by the presence or absence of stamens. Butterflies move from flower to flower, mimicking Adventist Health caregivers tending to patients in real time. There are multiple types of butterflies, each of which symbolizes the five categories of caregiver services provided by Adventist Health. The visualization cycles through various views, zooming in and out to provide viewers with both a high-level network overview and an up-close glimpse of the detailed activity within a single region. The up-close views also illustrate the relationship between patients and their caregivers.
Lastly, the garden visualization follows a daily rhythm, as does daily activity across the network. The media wall’s color palette changes with the time of day, cycling from hues of early morning light to darker, moonlit tones. This is also reflected in the placement of the installation; in the morning, the sun rises east of the media wall, bathing the garden in early dawn light. By noon, the sun is directly overhead, fully illuminating the entire scene. At the end of the workday, the sun sets in the west, and the visualization slowly transitions to a moonlit scene until the following morning. The complete digital installation now hangs in the Adventist Health lobby, illustrating both the continuous cycle of patient care within the network and the power of turning data into knowledge through visualization.