REVIEWER: Jonathan Rothman, director of data management for Emergency Medical Associates (EMA).

BACKGROUND: EMA is a physician-owned group practice of more than 250 emergency room physicians who staff 17 emergency departments (EDs) in New Jersey and New York and treat more than 700,000 emergency department patients a year.

PLATFORMS: Windows 2000 servers.

PROBLEM SOLVED: EMA had developed its own operational systems, including a physician electronic medical record and ED patient-tracking system as well as a homegrown physician billing system. The next initiative was to integrate and warehouse the data from all EMA sites into one repository in order to provide doctors and hospital administrators at contracted sites with the information they needed to improve all ED areas of the business.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: EMA used BusinessObjects to create eMARS (Emergency Medicine Analysis and Reporting System), which analyzes and reports on data from multiple data sources. eMARS supports the management of EMA's contracted EDs in all areas - financial, operational, clinical outcomes, billing and patient satisfaction - and supports EMA's management services, including new client contracting, managed care plan contracting, claims billing, human resources, physician credentialing, shareholder support, payroll, marketing and finance. eMARS has resulted in measurable benefits, including raising per-hour income for physicians. A second major initiative was the EMA biosurveillance system. EMA realized how powerful and versatile its BI infrastructure and capabilities had become and began monitoring several disease states against historical benchmarks. An eMARS dashboard for biosurveillance uses customized algorithms to cross-reference patient complaints and doctor diagnoses against EMA's database of 7 million ED visits. Symptoms are tracked, and unusual levels of activity that might indicate the early stages of an outbreak or a bioterrorist attack trigger email alerts to emergency room doctors across EMA's network, who then alert authorities.

STRENGTHS: Business Objects XI 2 serves as a single Web portal used to distribute all metrics. The greatest strengths are its ease of implementation and dashboard design, the comprehensiveness of its user security and ability to make reports, dashboards, scorecards and real-time alerts available through a single platform. Individual users can seamlessly drill up and down through metrics, dashboard analytics and reports through targeted, embedded links. Users have the flexibility to export data to most databases and office productivity suites.

WEAKNESSES: Within the Dashboard Manager and Performance Manager components of BusinessObjects XI, the graphic representation of data could be improved. BusinessObjects XI Release 2 includes visual enhancements to those components.

SELECTION CRITERIA: EMA standardized on BusinessObjects because it offered a development environment and user interface that enabled EMA to meet the diverse needs of all users. It offered data analysts the powerful visual tool they needed to put multiple metrics on one page across multiple data marts, yet the system was easily accessible by nontechnical users. Finally, Business Objects offered a product roadmap that allowed EMA to meet current and future needs using one complete product suite from a single vendor.

DELIVERABLES: eMARS provides ad hoc and comprehensive standard reports including metrics used to analyze operations at each ED. Another set of standard reports and metrics supports EMA's internal management services organization for the purpose of improving contracting and billing performance. BusinessObjects XI Release 2 has also put easy-to-use report authoring and advanced drill-down capabilities directly into the hands of physicians, hospital administrators and EMA partners, such as pharmaceutical representatives. The system now synchronizes data from multiple sources, including OLAP and relational databases, so users can perform queries and analysis on disparate data as if it originated from a single source.

VENDOR SUPPORT: With a combination of online knowledge exchange and logging of support requests that cannot be answered through search, Business Objects provides adequate support. For critical items, responsiveness is excellent, and the agents are knowledgeable about the product.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation adds value when questions of basic functionality need to be researched. More examples of solutions could be embedded.

BusinessObjects XI Release 2
Business Objects
3030 Orchard Parkway
San Jose, CA 95134
(604) 681-3435

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