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Australian health system adds social component for its 5,000 business intelligence users to share insights about patient care and operational efficiency.

Neil Versel

September 24, 2012

3 Min Read

11 Healthcare-Focused Business Intelligence Tools

11 Healthcare-Focused Business Intelligence Tools

11 Healthcare-Focused Business Intelligence Tools (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

A major Australian health department has upgraded its business intelligence (BI) system, adding a social component in hopes of improving communication about patient care and operational efficiency.

"We revamped our BI solution in order to manage and most importantly extract value from the massive amounts of data we generate every month," John Kelly, director of development at Queensland Health, said in a case study provided by technology vendor Panorama Software. "By presenting management across many departments with timely data, we enable more informed decision making with the ultimate goal of being more efficient, reducing costs, and still maintaining quality patient care." Queensland Health, a Queensland, Australia, state government agency, provides care for 30,000 patients a day in a state with a population of 4.5 million spread out across a land mass 2.5 times larger than Texas. The health system has about 70,000 staff members, 5,000 of whom regularly rely on BI. The state-run system had two issues, according to Jonathan Benshaoul, Toronto-based Panorama's sales director for the Asia-Pacific region: massive amounts of data and many users. "Their roles are so diverse," Benshaoul told InformationWeek Healthcare, and training costs were high. Data management was expensive, too, because all the data generated a lot of reports, which IT staff had to manage. And, above all, the user interface was poor, so Queensland Health was not making optimal use of all its data to improve operations. [ Looking for a PACS platform to replace an outdated system? See 9 Must-See Picture Archiving/Communication Systems. ] "Most of the users in a given department create reports that are similar," Benshaoul said, but without proper management, the reports were not identical and often duplicative. The BI system, called Necto, promises "no duplicity of reports," according to Benshaoul, who works out of Tel Aviv, Israel, an office that serves the Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific regions. Panorama adds social and contextual elements to the analytics, two things that Benshaoul believes go hand-in-hand. "Necto studies the preferences of each user who logs into the system," he said. The software connects data, insights, and people in the organization, providing a platform for employees and medical staff to share ideas. It also stores discussions and insights, a knowledge library of sorts. With a software development kit, Queensland Health was able to integrate BI with its employee portal. Administrators now can, for example, quickly compare staffing levels among hospitals across Queensland to improve bed management and lower patient wait times. "We want to shorten the time from data to decision," Benshaoul said. The new platform has enabled users to work with the same data sets at different entry levels and support data from sources such as financial systems, human resources, patient throughput records, and other sources. Notably, it has linked 300 million "patient costing" records--a budgeting metric--with records from 1 million patient encounters, to help Queensland Health analyze treatment costs by measuring such things as drug and blood utilization and diagnosis type, according to the software vendor. Previously, the statewide health system ran multiple BI components and data did not flow through a centralized repository. To remedy this, Queensland Health implemented Microsoft SQL Server 2012 as part of its BI strategy, in what Benshaoul called the biggest SQL implementation in the Asia-Pacific region.

About the Author(s)

Neil Versel


Neil Versel is a journalist specializing in health IT, mobile health, patient safety, quality of care & the business of healthcare. He’s also a board member of @HealtheVillages.

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