Meeting Performance-Based Funding Objectives with Self-Service Analytics

Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) is an urban community hospital serving 400,000 Ontario residents. QCH is under increased financial pressure due to Canada’s performance-based funding system, which rewards physicians, hospitals, and medical groups for meeting quality and efficiency measures, while penalizing poor outcomes, medical errors, and runaway costs. Compliance involves analyzing processes, reviewing outcomes, identifying areas for improvement, and predicting patient trends. Providers must easily access, combine, and analyze a broad array of data to determine how much funding they will receive.

To meet these requirements, QCH had four full-time employees creating and managing reports. Yet, it was still difficult to obtain accurate data about what was happening in the emergency room, as well as childbirth, geriatrics, mental health, rehabilitation, and medical and surgical services.

“Our old way of doing business, such as e-mailing spreadsheets and sending ad hoc requests by our decision support personnel, was not an efficient or effective way to provide data in real time,” explains Michael Cohen, VP of Clinical Services and Information Management, as well as QCH’s chief information officer. “We needed to improve the way we delivered insight and supported the information needs of the hospital.”

QCH didn’t have extract, transform, and load (ETL) tools, and financial reports were time-consuming to produce. Laure Pitfield, an expert in data analysis and interpretation, was hired to guide the Decision Support department by correlating information from multiple systems, creating self-service analytic dashboards, and building user self-sufficiency.

Pitfield’s interdisciplinary team, which oversees data analysis activities, is implementing a new analytic environment using Information Builders’ intelligence and integration technologies. “Information Builders stood out during a competitive RFP process because of the scalability and flexibility of its software,” Pitfield says. “It was clear it would enable us to get information into the hands of our users more quickly than the other solutions.”

A High-Performance Data Model

Previously, QCH struggled to access data from siloed stores. Its Microsoft SQL Server data warehouse contained data from a Meditech health information management system and a Winrecs Med2020 abstracting system. Cohen’s group wanted to avoid the cost and trouble of developing a middleware layer to transfer scheduling, payroll, finance, and other data into this warehouse, In his view, a major advantage of Information Builders’ products was robust back-end connectivity and built-in ETL tools. He chose DataMigrator to streamline connectivity to the new analytic system.

Information Builders Professional Services helped QCH design a new data model for Meditech and Med2020 information. “DataMigrator helped us combine two sources of information to calculate a rate over time,” Pitfield explains. “It lets you point and click to create new tables without any expertise in database administration.” The in-house team can easily add additional data sources, change formatting, or modify original data sources.

WebFOCUS was used to build a new self-service analytics environment containing several InfoApps™. The new BI Portal will soon be a “one-stop shop” for centralized information from many different areas.

InfoApps are intuitive, visually compelling, interactive interfaces providing business users with instant insight into clinical and administrative domains. For example, one InfoApp presents ten childbirth performance metrics. Designed as a scorecard, it lets people drill into data to view results by provider. “Reducing the C-section rate is a corporate priority,” says Cohen. “It was important to give the childbirth department the knowledge and understanding of what the C-section rate is and the other indicators that are linked to it, such as the induction rate and complication rate.”

Increasing Productivity and Predicting Patient Trends

WebFOCUS InfoAssist is vital for improvement projects occurring around the hospital. It provides a snapshot of information in the warehouse and empowers people to create their own Excel pivot tables, so they can see how critical metrics trend over time.

Cohen’s goal is to empower the business community to access and analyze data on their own. “We want to change the role of the decision support staff so they can spend 80 percent of their time on value-added improvement projects,” he notes. “In the past they used to spend 100 percent of their time generating reports.”

QCH also plans to use WebFOCUS RStat to predict how patient trends may influence future activity levels. Ontario’s government funding model relies on formulas derived from a mix of historical payments and performance incentives. One formula defines a hospital’s activity volume based on services rendered. Instead of receiving money up front, the hospital earns funding as it treats certain conditions or performs various services. With RStat, QCH will be able to predict the most likely types of future patient cases.

Seventy-five members of QCH’s leadership team utilize the new analytic environment, including leaders, managers, directors, vice presidents, and senior officers. Guided self-service analytics, accessible through the portal, enable these decision-makers to continuously evaluate their plans and make adjustments.

Upcoming projects include a patient census dashboard and a compliance dashboard for analyzing infection-control practices. For these and other analytic initiatives, the new environment has become essential.

“WebFOCUS helps us minimize the time we spend generating reports,” Cohen sums up. “We now have the flexibility and power to achieve many of the productivity gains we envisioned at the start of this project.”

Success Story Resources