“The power of the pivot”

I have just been analysing 330,000 genital swab results with regards to trichomonas prevalence in different patient cohorts. (such fun!)

How long did that take me?

Well, about 20 minutes for IT to set up the LIS search, about 30 minutes to tidy the data, and another 30 minutes to create the necessary pivot tables and graphs.

330,000 samples, 1 hour of work, with very useful results. Absolutely ridiculous when you step back and think about it.

Microsoft Excel and its counterparts were fairly rudimentary when I was a trainee 20 years ago. Now the newer versions are extremely powerful tools, very user friendly and with the capacity to produce results within minutes that only a generation ago would have taken research students several months .

I would be far more interested in prospective employees having a sound understanding (and awareness) of this sort of software than being able to recall the biochemical reactions of Klebsiella pneumoniae. As microbiology becomes increasingly automated over the next decade, data analysis will become an increasingly important part of the job description….


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