New BI tool a boon for Ontario hospitals

Ontario hospitals have access to a new software tool that could help them slash the time it takes to trend performance indicators from eight months to minutes.

The software was developed by Toronto-based Hospital Report Research Collaborative (HRRC) at the University of Toronto’s Department of the Health Policy, Management and Evaluation. The performance and quality improvement reporting tool is based on technology from business intelligence (BI) product vendor SAS Institute in Cary, N.C.

Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, principal investigator, HRRC said the Wizard for Hospital Report Indicator tool is now available to Ontario hospitals. HRRC develops methods and reports on hospital performance in Ontario using the balanced scorecard format. The software enables hospital staff to calculate financial and clinical performance indicators.

Traditional methods used by hospitals to obtain performance data have been time consuming, Brown said. The new tool, he said, was developed to more efficiently report on the performance of Ontario hospitals to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care (MOHLTC).

“Traditionally, hospitals create large files of either financial data or clinical data, (including) a variety of general ledger and transactional summaries,” Brown said. On a quarterly or an annual basis, hospitals then send the data out to firms that collect such information, including provincial agencies.

This data is then “cleaned” and processed, and sent back to researchers who use it to measure benchmarks and performance indictors.

But the whole process can be lengthy, Brown said. “That means performance indicator information is a year or a year-and-a-half old. That’s kind of hard to run a business on.”

The new BI tool is designed to integrate with any hospital IT infrastructure and takes less than 15 minutes to install, Brown said. Performance results can be performed in far less time than before, improving productivity and reducing data processing costs, he added.

For example, Brown said, performance improvement managers and analysts at Ontario hospitals can also use the tool to do trend analysis and benchmark their own internal results with other hospitals in the province to ensure compliance with performance standards set out by the MOHLTC.

Brown said there are currently several hospitals looking to implement the software, which essentially accelerates data processing. He said as hospital funding decisions are based on performance indicators, it’s important that this data be both timely and accurate.

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