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8/12/2008
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BI Tools Can Slice And Dice Data Without A Data Warehouse

A medical center is using DataWatch's Web-based Monarch BI Server to analyze patient data from lab reports and other sources to improve care.

Business intelligence tools that depend on building costly a data warehouse are often out of reach for small and mid-sized organizations. A new Web-based business intelligence tool by DataWatch is helping some smaller organizations squeeze insight out of data in existing reports and other electronic documents -- without a data warehouse.

St. Joseph Medical Center, a 364-bed, non-profit regional medical center in Towson, Md., is using DataWatch's new Monarch BI Server Web-based business intelligence product to analyze data from lab reports and other patient reports to improve care.

"For a cardiac surgeon, glucose isn't the first thing that comes to mind" about a patient, said Steve Breitenbach, St. Joseph applications analyst, in an interview. But post surgery, glucose problems in a patient who had not previously been diagnosed as diabetic, can develop complications.

By providing St. Joseph's authorized users, such as the director of diabetic patients, secure Web-based access to Monarch BI Server, the tool can help filter and sort data to identify potential health problems before they snowball into bigger issues. At St. Joseph, Monarch BI combs through lab reports to identify patterns of high glucose readings in lab tests or finger prick tests of patients who might not previously been identified as diabetic, Breitenbach said.

That would let caregivers ensure they get, for instance, appropriate post-surgical care to avoid blood-sugar-related complications, as well as get these newly diagnosed patients into diabetic treatments in a more timely way, he said.

Another St. Joseph healthcare manager was able to use Monarch to extract data from a 4,000 page PDF report to analyze how long it takes nurses to respond to patients when they push their bedside call button, said Breitenbach.

Not only does the insight help guide improved patient care, but "it helps from a business perspective, especially in pay-for-performance" programs in which insurers financially reward healthcare providers that meet key quality measurements, such as "avoiding post-surgical complications," he said.

The core benefit of Monarch BI Server is that it extracts and filters "information that is trapped and locked in reports so that it can be analyzed," said Harvey Gross, Datawatch VP of product management and development. The company, which has offered enterprise information management products for about 25 years, had previously sold its Monarch product as a desktop BI tool.

"A lot of folks in the SMB [small to mid-sized business] space are struggling to analyze lots of static data," said Gross. Monarch allow that data to be extracted from existing reports and sources and transforms them into "actionable formats," such as spreadsheets, without a data mart, he said.

Monarch BI Server is priced starting at $10,995 per server and comes with a concurrent license for five users.

Tools like this can help make BI capabilities available to more companies. InformationWeek recently did a report called The Road To Pervasive BI that discovered that only 25% of employees surveyed make use of BI tools and takes a look at the benefits that BI tools can provide. The report can be downloaded here (registration required).

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