How SAQ and CAMH are driving results with data analytics

Analytics is a broad term, encompassing everything from basic statistics to the complex algorithms used in artificial intelligence. Yet organizations of all types can find ways to derive value from the technology. At the SAS Analytics Exchange conference in San Diego, we spoke with two very different organizations who are driving major improvements through the use of various components of the SAS analytics software portfolio.

When Rebecca Comrie, director, reporting and analytics at the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) joined the organization in 2014, it was undergoing some radical changes. Not only had it undergone a clinical restructuring, it had a new VP of clinical services and had just installed its first electronic medical records (EMR) system and data warehouse. And the vision was to build a learning health system – the first mental health learning system in the world. Learning health systems accelerate the path for new treatments from research to implementation using rapid improvement cycles driven by data and analytics.

“It’s a really bold challenge to bring routine rapid measurement to mental health, to be able to support that. We’ve been on a journey to build our analytics portfolio, to build clinical partnerships, and so far we’ve been quite successful,” she told media. “This fall we’re applying for HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) Level 6.” HIMSS provides a qualification system, on a scale from 0 – 7, for analytics maturity. If successful, CAMH will be the first hospital in Canada to achieve HIMSS Level 6.

“We will have gone from HIMSS Level 1 to HIMSS Level 6 in three years,” Comrie said. “I’m really excited.”

Her team works with clinical programs to design dashboards and other tools using SAS Office Analytics, determining their needs, and how they can be supported with analytics. And it’s already showing results. A detailed examination of demographics, trends, and bed counts helped provide the business case that resulted in funding for 23 acute care beds. Another set of analyses got bridge funding for a clinic to help keep people out of the emergency room. And demand for the team’s services is growing.

“I’m excited that they’re excited about analytics,” she said. “Now we’re having trouble keeping up with demand. There are signs of a shift to a data-driven culture.”

The mandate for Dominique Bonin, director, business intelligence and consumer insights, at Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ), the province’s liquor control agency, and her team is to enhance customer satisfaction through the use of data from SAQ’s three-year-old loyalty program, Inspire, plus its app, its website, and its point of sale systems. Within two months of the program’s launch, over 1.2 million members had signed up. Today, the number sits at over 2.2 million.

“The intent is not to make people buy more,” Bonin said, but rather to give customers what they want so they will remain loyal. Through a weekly newsletter, SAQ pushes personalized promotions that reflect the types of beverages the customer already buys and earns points with. She said that customers are highly engaged; every Thursday, it’s like a game to figure out what the SAS Customer Intelligence Suite’s algorithm will offer them that week.

SAQ also runs events, handling invitations and customer contact on behalf of its partners, but never reveals its customer data to them, nor does it purchase and correlate data from other sources.

“People want to be treated as who they are,” she noted. “They give their trust to SAQ.”

SAQ constantly monitors the data, and enhances its offerings to match demand. For example, its analyses revealed that enough customers import foreign wine privately to make it worthwhile to add integration of private imports to its website next summer. It also intends to enhance its recommendation engine, and is planning on offering consultations with personal wine experts.

The goal was to capture 61 percent of transactions on the card. Bonin estimates that they’ve actually captured two-thirds of wine buyers, reflecting 70 percent of sales. And customer satisfaction is rising.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner has been interpreting tech for businesses for over 20 years and has worked in the industry as well as writing about it, giving her a unique perspective into the issues companies face. She has both IT credentials and a business degree.

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