Dashboard Insight recently spoke with Ardentia's David Beeson and received his holistic view of changing healthcare metrics, Ardentia's BI solution and his three best practices for healthcare BI.
Dashboard Insight: Where does Ardentia sit on the B.I. stack?
David Beeson: Ardentia takes data extracted from transactional systems but does not itself provide a transactional system. Information is loaded into a data warehouse built in SQL Server by Ardentia, which include a range of tools for data quality. Over the top of the warehouse, Ardentia provides web-enabled BI reporting tools.
In summary, Ardentia sits at the top of the BI stack but extends downwards into structures for holding, validating and making available the underlying information for BI.
DI: The use of KPIs has become a standard method for reporting ongoing performance within the healthcare industry. Considering the pace in which healthcare professionals work, do you find that clients are choosing a smaller group of metrics to report on due to time constraints?
DB: No, if anything they are choosing more of them and the pace at which they change is increasing. Today’s indicators become refined and extended into tomorrow’s. There may be a relatively small number of top-level metrics constructed by combining lower-level indicators which are not necessarily of the same nature.
DI: Tell us about your performance manager solution and how it is tailored to work within the healthcare industry.
DB: The solution allows users to define a series of KPIs, with their measures, targets and the persons responsible for them. In itself, this approach is not specific to healthcare. However, Ardentia has worked with clients to define specific KPIs that can be made available to new users, and if necessary, adapted for their specific needs. These specific needs and KPIs may concern throughput, the quality measures that can be derived from the data available, government initiatives relating to cleanliness, infection rates or inoculation rates, financial performance or other areas of concern to the client.
DI: How long does it take a customer to get up and running with your solution?
DB: Three to six months, though much further work can then continue as the client - working alone or with Ardentia’s help - continues to enhance and extend the system.
DI: Do you offer localized versions of your solutions? If so, can you tell us about what you offer?
DB: Configuration data and KPI definitions will always be localized. The software itself is standard.
DI: What are some key healthcare BI best practices you would recommend?
DB: Firstly, include the widest possible range of staff: central management, departmental management and, above all, clinicians and nurses.
Secondly, to meet the needs of the wide range of users within healthcare, adapt reporting to the needs of each user type; make sure they have access to all the information they need.
Thirdly, start off by giving them a view of the parts which are most relevant to them. This is to avoid drowning them in information initially, while still giving them access to all the information they are likely to require.
DI: We are in a harsh economic environment right now. How Ardentia addressing that?
DB: Our key applications concern patient-level costing and pathway management. Patient-level costing reveals exactly how hospitals are generating costs at the level of individual patients - this is the level at which clinicians who actually incur the costs can act to control them.
And by looking at whole pathways of care and not just isolated events, we can get a more accurate picture of overall care delivery and the costs involved. We need information on not just an outpatient attendance, a visit for a diagnostic test or an inpatient stay, but on the whole of the patient pathway, which may be made up of some or all of these events - and other types of event too. Such a holistic view gives a much better idea of how care is being delivered and how costs can be controlled.
DI: What can we expect to see from Ardentia in the coming months?
DB: Costed care pathways and hospital marketing information tools.
David Beeson is development director at healthcare business intelligence specialist Ardentia, in the U.K. Stafford-based Ardentia employs 58 staff and works exclusively on the delivery of software for healthcare. With more than 100 clients in the NHS, it is the largest dedicated supplier of such systems, with customers at all levels of the health service: hospital trusts, Primary Care Trusts, Strategic Health Authorities and national service suppliers such as Connecting for Health.