Published on 21-Jun-2011
"By working closely with ABS, we have proven that the combination of IBM Cognos and InfoSphere software can integrate data from a very wide variety of sources and provide new, valuable insight across the whole spectrum of healthcare processes and operations. As a result, whatever new information requirements arise, we are confident that our solution can meet them." - Rachel Spilsbury, Head of Information at NHS Wakefield District
NHS Wakefield District
Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Data Warehouse, Information Governance, Information Integration, Information Infrastructure
IBM Business Partner:
Advanced Business Solutions
NHS Wakefield District is the main NHS body responsible for healthcare and health promotion for 323,000 people in the Wakefield district. As a primary care trust (PCT), NHS Wakefield District commissions, plans and pays for health services including hospitals, ambulances, mental health and other specialist services. It also agrees contracts with GPs, dentists, pharmacists and optometrists who deliver services to the local community.
NHS Wakefield District’s Information team wanted to be able to provide its clients with a more holistic view of operations that would deliver deeper insight into patient care. The team wanted to build a flexible business intelligence solution that could accommodate the needs of an ever-changing NHS and enable the provision of BI as a service for other organisations.
Advanced Business Solutions, an IBM® Business Partner, helped the Information team create a central data warehouse, using IBM InfoSphere™ DataStage to collect and match data from dozens of sources. IBM Cognos® Business Intelligence enables the easy generation of reports on every aspect of this data – providing an end-to-end view of healthcare activities throughout Wakefield district.
Provides a seamless drill down from top-line figures down to the individual patient level. Provides a solid base for predictive analysis that can potentially improve patient care – identifying patients who are repeatedly admitted to hospital and flagging their cases for review. Delivers a highly flexible platform that can easily be extended to include new data sources – vital in an ever-changing NHS landscape. Makes it possible for NHS Wakefield District to act as a shared service centre, providing business intelligence as a service to other NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups.
NHS Wakefield District is the main NHS body responsible for healthcare and health promotion for 323,000 people in the Wakefield district of the United Kingdom. As a primary care trust (PCT), NHS Wakefield District commissions, plans and pays for health services including hospitals, ambulances, mental health and other specialist services. It also agrees contracts with GPs, dentists, pharmacists and optometrists who deliver services to the local community.
Managing a complex information ecosystem
With such a wide range of healthcare services within its remit, NHS Wakefield District had built up a complex information ecosystem, with data held in numerous spreadsheets and small databases, managed by different departments at different locations.
“We had dozens of data sources, which made it very difficult to produce reports efficiently,” comments Rachel Spilsbury, Head of Information at NHS Wakefield District. “Downloading the raw data from all the different systems, checking it, putting it in pivot tables and formatting it was so time-consuming that our Information team was spending more time on collecting the information than they spent analysing it!”
She adds: “Our Information team currently serves clients across the whole spectrum of public healthcare in Wakefield: commissioning managers, finance, contracting and quality teams, GPs and the district’s Joint Public Health Unit. And as the NHS is constantly evolving, we need to be able to adapt to new information demands all the time.
Finding the right partner
The Information team decided to build a central data warehouse that would draw data from all the different sources into a single repository, enabling quicker, more detailed and more timely reporting.
“Our team had very good knowledge of all our existing data sources, but we didn’t have any experience of data warehousing,” explains Rachel Spilsbury. “We needed to find a technology partner that could work with us to design and build our new information architecture, so we worked with the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) to start a tender process and shortlist some possible suppliers.
“When we met with the team from Advanced Business Solutions (ABS), we were impressed – not only by their technical knowledge, but also by their approach. We had already recognised that the key requirement for our new solution would be flexibility, since we needed it to be able to adapt both to our own changing reporting needs and to those of potential shared-service clients in the future. Unlike many other vendors, ABS were able to propose a solution that wouldn’t just meet our immediate requirements, but could also be easily extended in the future.”
Building on IBM software
The ABS solution was built around IBM InfoSphere DataStage, which extracts, transforms and loads data from all of NHS Wakefield District’s spreadsheets and databases into a single central data warehouse. Once the data has been collected, IBM Cognos Business Intelligence is used to perform a wide range of analyses, from routine monthly reports to special ad-hoc analyses.
“It was a challenging project, and a steep learning curve, but ABS and our Information team worked well together to deliver the solution successfully,” comments Rachel Spilsbury. “What we have now is streets ahead of anything else I have seen in the NHS, and when phase two of the project comes online, we are hoping to be able to do some really innovative work with an even wider set of data sources to provide analytics around prescriptions, performance, and public health.”
Potential for exciting analyses
The current version of the solution is already enabling NHS Wakefield District to produce some exciting results. The data warehouse collects and integrates data from numerous departments and organisations, and allows analysts to drill from a top-level overview right down to the individual patient level. As a result, a much more coherent picture of end-to-end patient care is starting to emerge.
“For example, one thing we’ve been looking at is patients with long-term conditions who have repeated hospital admissions,” explains Rachel Spilsbury. “By identifying patients who are admitted more frequently than normal and finding out whether they could be treated more effectively by their GPs, we can potentially reduce the number of times they need to be admitted – improving the patients’ lives and reducing the cost for the health service as a whole.”
The main focus for the solution at the moment, though, is to provide a more holistic view of healthcare in Wakefield, and create a more joined-up service.
Currently, the main benefits of the solution are practical: using the IBM InfoSphere and Cognos software enables the Information team to create routine reports in a matter of minutes, when previously it might have taken a whole day. This means that the team can spend more time on actual analysis, rather than number-crunching.
Equally, the solution allows non-technical users to access intuitive reports relevant to their needs. As a result, users can begin to serve themselves with the reports required. In phase two of the project, NHS Wakefield District has already started giving GP practices direct access to the system, so they can produce their own reports autonomously.
Looking to the future
“Under the current government, the operational structure of the NHS is set to change,” comments Rachel Spilsbury. “From a commissioning perspective, it seems likely that the role played by primary care trusts will be filled by clinical commissioning groups supported by local commissioning support services. Whatever the outcome, there will be a major need for management information to support these commissioning groups and we see a big opportunity for our solution as the foundation of a shared services model.
Going forward, many individual NHS organisations are likely to struggle to achieve the levels of information analysis and flexibility that NHS Wakefield District’s solution offers, especially given the current climate of austerity and the efficiency targets that are being set. To meet these emerging needs, NHS Wakefield District has developed a platform that will potentially enable it to open up its services and provide a shared service model for clinical commissioning groups and other organisations within the NHS cluster, assisting them in conquering their information requirements.
“By working closely with ABS, we have proven that the combination of IBM Cognos and InfoSphere software can integrate data from a very wide variety of sources and provide new, valuable insight across the whole spectrum of healthcare processes and operations. As a result, whatever new information requirements arise, we are confident that our solution can meet them.”
About Advanced Business Solutions
Advanced Business Solutions is part of Advanced Computer Software Group plc. It is a highly successful international provider of business finance and collaborative solutions, and the largest supplier of business management and information systems to the UK mid-market service sector.
Advanced Computer Software Group plc has 7,000 clients worldwide and recognises that keeping close to its customers allows a better understanding and responsiveness to daily business issues.
To learn more about services and solutions from Advanced Business Solutions, visit: advancedcomputersoftware.com/abs/
About IBM Business Analytics
IBM Business Analytics software delivers actionable insights decision-makers need to achieve better business performance. IBM offers a comprehensive, unified portfolio of business intelligence, predictive and advanced analytics, financial performance and strategy management, governance, risk and compliance and analytic applications.
With IBM software, companies can spot trends, patterns and anomalies, compare “what if” scenarios, predict potential threats and opportunities, identify and manage key business risks and plan, budget and forecast resources. With these deep analytic capabilities our customers around the world can better understand, anticipate and shape business outcomes.
Products and services used
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