Sentara Healthcare includes a broad network of over 100 caregiving sites (including ten hospitals), physicians, medical services, and health plans. Starting in 2002, Sentara decided to consolidate separate existing web sites for its main constituencies (consumers, physicians, employees, and insurance members) into a single-role-based portal served from a single content management system. Dynamic Diagrams has contributed to this effort thus far by helping visualize the new portal’s architecture, and redesigning the four individual sites as an interim step toward a single role-based web presence. To explain how a role-based enterprise portal would work, we had developed an abstract, conceptual model for Sentara IT staff. However, when it came time to explain this concept to senior executives who were not directly involved in the initiative, we needed a better model for illustrating how the new portal would connect web site constituents with various back-end systems.
To make the idea of the role-based enterprise portal more accessible, we humanized the concept by creating a series of visualizations that explained how the system would work in the context of online transactions. Our visualization showed which parts of the system (e.g., patient’s electronic health record) would be accessed as each constituency used one of Sentara’s sites to complete a transaction, such as changing a primary care physician (patient), reviewing the status of a claim (physician), or checking a paystub online (employee). In this way, executives would understand the range of online transactions available; the kinds of data driving these transactions; and how each user may vary in terms of role, authentication status, and location. By grounding an abstract concept in concrete user transactions, we were able to make it more understandable.