BACKGROUND: Alegent Health, an Omaha, Nebraska-based organization, is a not-for-profit, organized, integrated healthcare delivery system, providing services across Nebraska and Iowa. The system consists of seven acute-care hospitals, two long-term care and two mental health facilities, a home health and hospice agency, several pharmacies and a primary care physician network, including a total of more than 100 service sites.

PLATFORMS: Compaq Professional Workstation 5100, 333 MHz Pentium II, 162MB RAM Microsoft Windows NT 4.0.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Historically, numerous disparate information systems housing significant volumes of patient, transaction and clinical data have yielded little value beyond billing. As a result, health systems such as Alegent typically have multiple disconnected views of their customers and their interactions over time across the health system. Recognizing this dilemma and the potential value of a single customer-centric data warehouse, Alegent set forth to build a single source of data. Alegent began by migrating data from multiple operational systems into a single data mart. These systems had varying data standards and models requiring extensive data conversion and standardization. In part, using QMSoft's (Qualitative Marketing Software) Centrus technology, records were cleansed, fielded, parsed, standardized and enhanced. The result provided easier access to a huge volume of data. However, Alegent still lacked the ability to tie this information together at both the individual and household level. Alegent selected Centrus Merge/Purge, QMSoft's solution for data consolidation, householding, deduping and merging of data records, to tackle this problem. The outcome was a tremendous success. Alegent can now effectively analyze and draw a more complete picture of its customers' total interaction over time throughout the continuum of care.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Centrus identifies matching records by examining the data in more than one sequence. It correlates the results of each sequence with one another, identifying additional matches. The user controls the records' sequence of examination by specifying multiple index keys. By looking at the records in more than one sequence (i.e., sorted by name, then address), it is much more likely to compare and identify matches within the user-specified "sliding window." The use of a sliding window precludes the need to compare every record to every other record in the data set.

STRENGTHS: Centrus' comprehensive capabilities and user- defined controls are its greatest strengths. The user may define multiple data sources, internal data lists, complex data indexes and all of the record- matching criteria. The sliding window technology, coupled with the multiple data indexes, allows the user to complete comprehensive data consolidation and record matching with greater accuracy and in a more efficient manner than traditional approaches.

WEAKNESSES: The depth and breadth of the control that users have over the process is also its weakness. It is imperative that users know and understand both the process and the data that they are working with in order to accurately and effectively employ the product.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Alegent selected Centrus because of its unique approach and efficient performance. Its ability to match records more accurately, to examine records in more than one sequence and to correlate the results of each sequence to each other yields improved results over products that use a traditional approach.

DELIVERABLES: The product supports the creation of multiple output tables that include unique records, master and subordinate duplicates, list members and/or consolidated records. Multiple criteria may be specified for a single output table. Exploiting internal data lists, users can control the records to be included and/or suppressed. Its sampling capabilities allow the user to test job settings before executing a comprehensive job on a large set of records. In addition, several standard reports are also available to the user, including Job Summary and Near Miss.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Product support is excellent. Each new product update incorporates fixes for previously identified problems along with QMSoft-identified improvements. The most recent release included significant improvements in performance and processing speed.

DOCUMENTATION: Hard-copy documentation is provided with the product and periodic updates are available in .pdf file format. The documentation was sufficient for Alegent to effectively learn and use Centrus before any specialized training.

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