Omni Healthcare, a health care maintenance organization (HMO), is owned by Sutter Health and St. Joseph's Medical Center and currently serves 26 counties throughout Northern California and has more than 130,000 members. Omni Healthcare's goal is to provide quality, affordable health care services that preserve members' freedom to choose their own physician and member hospital.

Given the extremely competitive nature of the health care market, Omni sought to foster its growth and competitive position by arming its front-line managers across the organization, including actuary, marketing, medical management and membership accounting, with timely corporate data in order to make better, more informed decisions. We realized that in order to continue to succeed in the highly competitive health care market, Omni needed to maximize the efficiency of its operations while simultaneously reaching out to new members.

Omni saw the best solution was a data warehouse with an integrated query, reporting and on-line analytical processing (OLAP) tool as the front end. By organizing all of the company's critical provider, member, revenue and marketing information in a data warehouse environment, Omni turned this data into a competitive weapon. The critical component would be a decision support tool that would allow non-technical decision-makers to take advantage of the corporate data to identify potential cost savings, reach new markets and effectively track revenue.

"We have all of our essential data in our data warehouse. It is critical to our business to be able to analyze information relating to expenses, revenues and our provider networks," said John Volkober, chief financial officer, Omni Healthcare. "With Business Objects, our non- technical management can now use that data to make better decisions."

In the past, managers had to rely on standardized reports that were translated from an HP Turbo Image database into Fox Pro reporting software. These reports were delivered on a weekly, or even monthly, basis--making the data less timely. The entire reporting process was a complex task requiring the time of eight information systems staff members.

Since the implementation of Business Objects DSS technology, our managers can easily produce reports within minutes without assistance from the information systems staff. IS talent is no longer being wasted on report writing. The new system allows our managers to independently seek answers to their questions and facilitates their decision making processes--while at the same time freeing our IS staff to pursue strategic development projects.

Omni's previous reporting tool required a technical user who understood query language as well as database structure, forcing non-technical users to rely on IS for all corporate information. And, each query could take up to or exceed the better part of an hour for completion. Consequently, Omni set out to find a tool that would:

  • Provide all managers, not just power users, with easy access to corporate data.
  • Allow managers to ask complex questions and receive answers quickly.
  • Enable managers to create their own standardized or ad hoc reports.
  • Provide for complex data analysis.

After comparing the software options on the market, Omni chose BusinessObjects, because it not only met all of the company's requirements, but it provided these capabilities in a single, intuitive and integrated environment.
BusinessObjects delivers Omni the ability to see a complete picture of our company, not just a departmental view. By analyzing data from across our business, managers can find areas to cut costs. We can also better understand our health care providers and our members; and using that data, we can negotiate contracts that will be profitable. For example, by analyzing cost patterns for different demographics, Omni can now more accurately price contracts for employee groups. And, this data analysis capability also helps to negotiate profitable contracts with medical groups.

Five groups of users at Omni Healthcare are using BusinessObjects, including:

  • Actuary. Omni's actuary staff is using BusinessObjects to review the cost of medical supplies, services and pharmaceuticals. Now, on an ad hoc basis, actuaries can ask questions (such as, "What are the top medical procedure expenses in San Francisco County?") enabling the company to negotiate the best contracts.
  • Marketing. Marketing managers can now analyze membership demographics and gauge the success of marketing campaigns. They can ask, "What is the membership growth in Marin County compared to Santa Clara County?" allowing them to pinpoint successful marketing tactics and reach new markets.
  • Membership Accounting. Using the information in the data warehouse about current members, the membership accounting staff can track premium payments, conduct audits and easily produce account reports.
  • Provider Group. The provider group staff is responsible for signing up new medical providers. Now, using BusinessObjects, they can ask questions (such as, "Do we have enough providers in Santa Clara County to support our membership base?") and analyze provider group expenses in order to sign profitable contracts with provider groups.
  • Medical Management.With BusinessObjects, the medical management staff can engage in analysis of Omni's competitive standing in the industry. Omni can now easily compare its performance with that of other health care providers in the industry by facilitating queries such as "Are we taking enough mammograms compared to the other providers in the region?"

Users across Omni's enterprise are now making better business decisions with regard to marketing, contracting and cost management. End users access an Oracle data warehouse actively using BusinessObjects on clients running Windows 95.

Practical Advice

Make absolutely sure that the vision of what you wish to accomplish with your data repository is shared across the whole enterprise. The primary focus should be providing inductive solutions, such as end-user reporting, to your client. Look for a new return on technology investment--for example, moving from an information-based provider to a knowledge center for existing clients and new markets for your company's knowledge-based services. I suggest implementing an operational data store (ODS) prior to building a full-blown data warehouse. Implementing an ODS can be accomplished quickly so that you can provide clients access to data. The ODS can help you ascertain how to aggregate certain fields during the development of your formal data warehouse.

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