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Cognos System Lets Hospital Examine Patient Data

Quist Streamlines patient-discharge process and balances doctors' workloads
The Vancouver Hospital & Health Sciences Center wants to treat its patients as customers. The patient care, teaching, and research hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia, said last week that it's taking steps to improve customer satisfaction by using a business-intelligence system to analyze hospital operations data.

The quality utilization information support team system, known as Quist, is based on PowerPlay online analytical processing software from Cognos Inc. The system is used to collect patient and hospital operational data, including information about patient admissions and discharges, surgical wait times, average patient stays, emergency-room statistics, and the number of patients per doctor and per ward. The hospital uses that data to create OLAP databases that medical and service managers use to analyze hospital functions to improve operational efficiencies and patient satisfaction.

For example, hospital managers are scrutinizing the patient discharge process to find ways to make it more efficient, ultimately saving time for patients and money for the hospital. Efforts are also under way to identify medical procedures for which there are long wait times because of shortages of medical equipment or specialists. Administrators also can balance physicians' workloads by analyzing how many patients are assigned to each doctor.

Quist went into widespread use throughout the hospital earlier this year. Employees can access the system via browsers and the hospital's intranet. Before Quist, the hospital extracted and analyzed data from medical records manually. It took months to develop reports to answer such questions as how long patients stay in the hospital. Now questions can be answered in minutes. Says Sue Emmons, director of the quality utilization information support team: "The Cognos tools allow us to manipulate information and generate fast answers to our many queries."