Geisinger Health Systems has long been an early adopter of data management and business intelligence systems for its handful of hospitals and more than 40 clinics located around Pennsylvania. Until recently, mining that information for its anatomic and pathology laboratories has been anything but cutting edge.

“We found it very difficult to utilize this information in real time,” says Al Shulski, IT director in laboratory information systems at the health network. “Before, we started by creating reports from our system, but that was oftentimes days, weeks or months old. It was evident that this was labor intensive and time-consuming.”

For the lab, data on studying diseases and how they impact the body – particularly with individual patients – grows and changes by the day. Technicians and end users of the lab data needed management of information presentation, real-time tracking and metrics, and faster access to growing pools of patient information, all of which came from several existing systems.

After about two months of testing, Geisinger in March implemented the Insight for Pathology System from BI and health care informatics provider Altosoft. Scott Opitz, Altosoft CEO, says the health care market is not unlike the business side when it comes to their expectations of BI platforms. Users want Web-based dashboards, quick access to updated data, easy visualizations and coding cut from the equation.

Due to the ease of use with the system, training extended beyond IT and first-tier technicians to lab physicians and administrators, resulting in deeper and more accurate data insight coming from the anatomic and pathology lab. A pre-built library of dashboards and analytics has sparked new arenas of operational efficiencies at the lab, and patient load information for tests can be combed through and presented in a fraction of the previous time, Shulski says. There has also been a “significant reduction” in errors due to disparate data sources at the health system because of features such as dashboard visualizations that present the source of information, according to the IT director. Additional requests for operational training and new functionality has also grown since this summer as Geisinger’s users “found out what was possible” with the new data accessibility.

“It covers pretty much the entire gamut. Any system that has information in the database is really eligible for us to interrogate,” Shulski says.

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