REVIEWER: Scott Kozicki, vice president and chief technology officer, and Bert Chaffin, senior director of applications development, at American Healthways.

BACKGROUND: American Healthways is the nation's largest provider of specialized, comprehensive disease management, care enhancement and high-risk health management services proven to improve the quality of healthcare and lower costs. The company has the health of more than 1.3 million lives under management and for more than 20 years has been working closely with patients, physicians, health plans and hospitals to encourage adherence to evidence-based standards of care.

PLATFORMS: HP Integrity rx4640 running the HP-UX 11i version 2 operating system.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Over the past four years, American Healthways has experienced a compounded annual growth rate in revenues of 48 percent, accompanied by exponential growth in the amount of patient data to be integrated and analyzed. As a key component of its business is information management, the company regularly pours through large amounts of claims, lab and pharmacy data to determine the best course of action for care and recovery. Processing all this rapidly growing data presented a significant challenge with the possibility of outpacing the company's previous IT infrastructure.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: American Healthways relies on PowerCenter to rapidly consolidate massive volumes of patient data from various disparate sources. With PowerCenter, data processing jobs that formerly took days to parse are now completed in just hours. In the new environment, American Healthways can quickly condense a mountain of raw data into a clean, evidence-based model for patient care that helps employees to assist patients in an even more timely manner. We are now able to ensure the dissemination of and adherence to the most up-to-date standards of care for patients, strengthen physician/patient relationships and empower individuals to become more effective self-managers of their health.

STRENGTHS: As the only data integration platform optimized for 64-bit performance, PowerCenter provides higher data throughput, uses fewer CPUs to perform the same tasks in a 32-bit environment, and enables savings in CPU licensing costs and processing time. In addition, PowerCenter's open and flexible architecture ensures that companies can automatically leverage the advantages of any new underlying hardware and operating systems during changes or upgrades to their IT environments, without needing to adjust their data integration software.

WEAKNESSES: As an enterprise data integration platform, the Informatica environment can require some troubleshooting to zero in on various problems, so we would like to see more help tools, as well as a larger sequence generator. We are confident that Informatica's product team is successfully incorporating our feedback into future releases.

SELECTION CRITERIA: American Healthways previously integrated data using a 32-bit version of PowerCenter. While the company was in the evaluation stage for an upgraded data warehousing environment, Informatica was preparing for the beta release of its latest PowerCenter version leveraging 64-bit processing. At this time, HP and Informatica conducted a proof-of-concept test on the new version that demonstrated an impressive tenfold performance gain. The proposed configuration cut American Healthways' processing time from 72 hours to just two, in one specific test. In two other tests, run times were cut from nearly two hours to just 15 minutes in the test environment, and from 23 hours to just 41 minutes. American Healthways' original expectation was to improve processing times by five to 10 percent, but PowerCenter far exceeded that expectation in the new environment, with total processing time cut by 96 percent or more in all three tests.

DELIVERABLES: American Healthways is using PowerCenter to help create internal evidence-based patient care reports for account management and to assess financial and clinical outcomes.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Informatica was very helpful. We spent a limited amount of time with the Informatica help desk.

DOCUMENTATION: Informatica's PowerCenter documentation is complete and easy to understand.

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