WIdO AOK gains a deeper understanding of healthcare trends

Helping to deliver high-quality, cost-effective healthcare

Published on 19 Mar 2013

Customer:
WIdO (Wissenschaftliches Institut der AOK)

Industry:
Healthcare

Deployment country:
Germany

Solution:
Data Warehouse, Smarter Planet

Smarter Planet:
Smarter Healthcare

Overview

WIdO is a research institute funded by AOK, Germany’s largest health insurance group. One of WIdO’s key roles is to provide medical statistics to AOK, which AOK uses to provide clear insight into the terms of insurance policies and to optimize its services. The policies cover areas including in-patient services, preventive care, rehabilitation, disability and medication.

Business need:
WIdO is a research and development institute funded by AOK, Germany’s largest health insurer. WIdO provides medical statistics to AOK, which AOK uses to inform its insurance policies. With this information, AOK identifies inefficiencies and areas that require further investment. To generate these statistics, the company must analyse huge sets of data. Since it was unable to do this reliably and quickly with its existing system, WIdO needed a high-performance analysis platform.

Solution:
WIdO implemented an IBM Smart Analytics System 2050 solution, a comprehensive, integrated and optimised platform for high-performance analytics that can be adapted and expanded at any time to accommodate changing analysis requirements.

Benefits:
Expanded the institute’s ability to conduct multidisciplinary, geographically broad studies, allowing it to analyse much larger data volumes. Cut analysis times from more than two hours to just a few seconds — an improvement of more than 99 percent. Enabled the processing of more complex analytical tasks, from formally defined analytical applications to ad-hoc queries.

Case Study

To read a German version of this case study, click here.

Smarter Healthcare: Understanding healthcare trends to improve customer service

Instrumented: Clinical and anonymised patient data from 2,000 hospitals, 140,000 mobile medics and 20,000 pharmacies across the country is combined into a central database for analysis and reporting.

Interconnected: The research institute uses the powerful analytical solution to conduct broad multidisciplinary studies across the healthcare sector, uncovering hidden patterns and relationships in the data.

Intelligent: The powerful analytics capabilities enable WIdO to perform studies with a broader scope, identify inefficiencies and opportunities to reduce costs, and provide guidance on how patient care could be improved.

WIdO is a research institute funded by AOK, Germany’s largest health insurance group. One of WIdO’s key roles is to provide medical statistics to AOK, which AOK uses to provide clear insight into the terms of insurance policies and to optimize its services. The policies cover areas including in-patient services, preventive care, rehabilitation, disability and medication.

The amount of data involved in this work is enormous. Every year, WIdO collects data on six million patient cases in 2,000 hospitals, as well as 55 million diagnoses, 18 million medical procedures and 55 million compensation cases. It also tracks 370 million cases that are treated by more than 140,000 mobile medics, as well as 400 million prescriptions of over 50,000 medicines filled by 20,000 pharmacies.

As healthcare costs rise, insurance providers must work to reduce inefficiencies in all areas of the health ecosystem, from hospitals and pharmacies to billing offices. The institute needed a powerful analysis solution to identify previously unknown inefficiencies, such as unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics, which drive up costs and affect quality of care.

To identify these knowledge gaps, WIdO conducts broad studies, which often cross disciplinary, organisational and regional lines. These studies produce indispensable insights about how to serve patients effectively and keep costs low; however, they also require extensive analytical processing power. Although the institute’s existing system analysed corresponding small subsets of data with sound results, WIdO wanted a high-performance analysis platform that would process large amounts of data more quickly and reliably. It needed the ability to run both ad-hoc queries and formally defined analytical applications within reasonable timeframes, sorting through a flood of data within seconds to zero in on the answers to complex questions.

Quick implementation of a powerful analytics platform

When WIdO approached IBM for a solution, the IBM team conducted an impartial business intelligence workshop to assess the situation and better understand the organisation’s needs. In the end, WIdO chose an IBM® Smart Analytics System 2050 solution, a comprehensive, integrated and optimised platform that provides high-performance analytical capabilities, wherever and whenever they are needed.

WIdO evaluated different options in various proofs of concept to put the solutions to the acid test. The IBM solution came out on top against a number of well-known competitor systems. IBM Software Services for Information Management then helped WIdO implement a solution that can be adapted and expanded at any time to accommodate changing analysis requirements.

The solution’s parallel processing capabilities support fast response times, with an automated workload management tool that dynamically allocates calculation tasks to the available hardware resources. During testing, WIdO processed more than 24 million anonymized AOK insurance accounts within one minute. The new-found speed enables WIdO to deliver quicker, more accurate data analysis to its affiliated organisations.

WIdO identifies trends in the healthcare sector

WIdO uses its advanced business analytics platform to understand healthcare trends across the country, answering key questions such as when and why people get sick, which treatment pathways work best, which medications are prescribed, how illness affects productivity, and many others. The solution enables the research institute to run broad multidisciplinary studies that extract important insights from large amounts of data. This provides important guidance about how healthcare can be improved.

For example, WIdO analysed 136 million sick-days taken by 9.7 million AOK members at more than 1.3 million companies. The company produced a map of Germany showing the number of sick days recorded in different states and cities, along with the reasons given for the sick leave. AOK provided this data, in some cases down to the level of individual departments, to several institutions in Germany, to give them insight into common pain points. Furthermore, the results provided a new perspective on why, where and when illnesses occur.

Spotting inefficiencies and saving costs

When WIdO examined the practice of prescribing antibiotics for children, analysis showed that children under age five are significantly more likely to receive an antibiotic prescription than older children. In 2010, 70 percent of the younger group received antibiotics, while only 30 percent of the older group did. Moreover, almost half of the prescriptions were for reserve antibiotics, which should be prescribed only if patients develop a resistance to the standard medication. These findings raised suspicions that medications were being prescribed unnecessarily or inappropriately. Armed with these insights, AOK addressed the problem with doctors, running awareness campaigns and classes for patients to encourage a more appropriate approach to prescriptions.

Another study involved analysing the apparent divide between urban and rural regions in the 3.8 percent of AOK policyholders diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). WIdO found that ADHD is more commonly diagnosed and treated with medication in cities than in rural areas. The client concluded that this trend suggested that there was a shortage of specialist care in the countryside, and AOK called for rural doctors to receive further training in ADHD.

WIdO gets to better results faster

The new solution has reduced the time taken for data analyses from more than two hours to just a few seconds - an improvement of more than 99 percent. Furthermore, the solution enables WIdO to process more complex analytical tasks. For example, it can now run ad-hoc queries as well as formally defined analytical applications. The greater processing power also enables the institute to analyse much larger studies, such as those with a broad multidisciplinary scope.

WIdO plans to enhance its analyses even further. The institute’s scientists aim to create a comprehensive library of standards that they can use to analyse different treatment paths for AOK policyholders, and segment them into distinct patient profiles. By doing so, WIdO can provide valuable insights for planning healthcare services more efficiently. For example, the institute could identify regions in which certain medications are being disproportionately prescribed and launch programs to educate doctors, thus helping to improve the quality of medication prescriptions. In addition, the solution is designed to grow with the institute’s business requirements, and it can easily be upgraded to accommodate additional tasks or larger data volumes.

Components

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Storage, Storage: DS3500 Express, System x: System x3850 X5

Software:
IBM Smart Analytics System 2050, InfoSphere Warehouse, DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. IBM Deutschland GmbH, 71137 Ehningen, Deutschland. ibm.com/de. IBM Österreich, Obere Donaustrasse 95, 1020 Wien. ibm.com/at. IBM Schweiz, Vulkanstrasse 106, 8010 Zürich. ibm.com/ch. Produced in Germany. March 2013. IBM, the IBM logo, Let‘s Build A Smarter Planet, Smarter Planet, the Smarter Planet icons, DB2, InfoSphere, System Storage and System x are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. Statements regarding IBM’s future direction and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice, and represent goals and objectives only.

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