By Torben B. Sørensen
A new solution makes Business Intelligence in the Danish healthcare sector more operational in order for the hospitals to continuously improve their workflows. In this way, data actively make a difference to the individual medical practitioner, nurse, and patient.
How good are we at curing the patients? Where can we concentrate our efforts? And how do our improvement measures work?
These questions are regularly asked by management and politicians in relation to Danish hospitals.
NNIT can help find the answers and use them to improve workflows and processes. The Hospitals BI solution provides data in an intuitively comprehensible manner and allows for the comparison of data targeted at the individual user.
The purpose is to establish a data foundation and a culture for decision-making that is based on updated and relevant data as well as use data as an integrated part of the daily processes and to improve them:
"In Danish hospitals, there is a clear wish to improve the treatment – both with regard to quality and efficiency. There are also continuous improvements, but the hospitals are complex organizations, and insight is required to understand the correlations. Improvements in one area can cause problems somewhere else in the treatment process. When we make data available, as we do here, it will become much easier to see these correlations and make qualified decisions that do not cause unintended problems," Vice President of NNIT, Jan Kold, explains.
Danish hospitals already have a very large amount of data. NNIT's solution is based on these existing data and will work with them instead of focusing on the data that are missing.
Traditionally, the purpose of Business Intelligence (BI) in the healthcare sector has been to report to the management rather than to provide information to the staff in the organization. There has been much less focus on applying data to make improvements "on the floor" where it will really benefit both patients and staff. NNIT's solution makes BI more operational and provides the organization with tools to improve the efficiency of the processes and maintain and improve the workflows in the individual departments.
The core of the solution is the dynamics between three well-proven elements:
• Classic BI architecture developed to be agile
• Digital presentation tool on "any device anywhere"
• Pragmatic Operational Excellence
On the basis of an existing data warehouse or existing, but distributed, data sources, a data warehouse will be expanded or built in agile development processes. This means that the focus is on the delivery of a few key data at a time, but in return, each element will be finished quickly. In this way, a data warehouse will gradually become complete during a process where you can provide new, key data all the time.
One of the benefits of building a data warehouse in this way is that you are able to support the need
for flexibility in order to answer questions quickly. The digital presentation tool makes it possible to view data in an intuitive manner. The data will be available on stationary computers as well as mobile tablets and smartphones, or in the event that you do not have your usual tools or devices and, therefore, you have to view the data via a browser.
"This method for retrieving and providing data forms the basis of the third element of the solution: the support of an "improvement culture" based on data. The availability across management levels makes the data more reliable. When data are not just something you enter for others to see, but are something you need yourself, the involved parties become more interested in ensuring that the data are as correct as possible," Jan Kold explains.
However, availability also requires a lot from the involved parties. The KPIs of a department may be written on a board every week for everyone to see, for example. Therefore, the management and staff also have to be prepared to let other people see that it is sometimes difficult to reach the set goals.
"Here, the hospital has to establish a culture where there are no attempts to cover up the data and facts that do not match the expectations. Instead, a culture should be promoted where openness is exercised – for instance, the managers could ask other managers, who achieved their goal and how they did it," Jan Kold says.