CATEGORY: Data Mining & Visualization

REVIEWER: Dennis Loucks, CEO of First Choice Medical Management.

BACKGROUND: First Choice Medical Management (FCMM) is a leading-edge provider of healthcare billing and practice management services in Texas. As a full service provider, FCMM conducts business for several physician groups and offers unique value-added analytics to its clients.

PLATFORMS: The PolyVista Analytical Client is run on IBM Desktop PCs as well as IBMs (thin clients) using Windows Terminal Services.

PROBLEM SOLVED: PolyVista helps FCMM differentiate their service offerings to their customers in several ways. FCMM staff use PolyVista's OLAP functionality to perform ad hoc queries/reports or to analyze or validate certain types of transactions. These requests generally originate from their customers or support internal analysis. FCMM staff use PolyVista's Discovery Algorithms to proactively uncover data anomalies, which can be indicative of unfavorable trends, data-entry errors or payer discrepancies. Without identification and correction, these errors can significantly delay payments and will cause additional follow-up work. FCMM staff use OLAP and Discovery to better manage and analyze their billing and collection function for productivity, accuracy and quality, and to monitor billing data for regulatory compliance. FCMM clients use PolyVista functionality to support a self-service model for ad hoc report requests and data, reducing FCMM's internal workload. Physicians, business managers and administrative staff use PolyVista to enhance productivity and optimize professional staffing requirements, determine procedural and fee-related trends and patterns, and to analyze patient billing histories and insurance claim response.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The key functional components of PolyVista include a very robust OLAP browser, the seamless integration of Discovery Algorithms and a very rich set of two- and three-dimensional visualization techniques. The OLAP functionality supports drag-and-drop navigation, customizable settings, multidimensional nesting and drill-down, filtering, suppression, sorting, data exporting, local cubes, etc. The Discovery Algorithms (data mining) automate the process of discovering anomalies or hidden relationships in the data. These tightly integrated "Guided Analysis" algorithms assist our users by discovering and ranking interesting relationships and trends found in the data. In addition to the classic business charts, Pixel-Map, multidimensional Pareto and three-dimensional charts are supported. A slider control allows zoom functionality.

STRENGTHS: The most compelling strength of the software is in its seamless integration of OLAP and Discovery Algorithms. These integrated Discovery techniques have automated the process of surfacing new patterns and finding complex data anomalies. Whether the need is for manual OLAP (slice and dice) or automated mining, PolyVista has us covered.

WEAKNESSES: The documentation could be improved. While it covers all the basic functionality, some of the detail is lacking.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We were looking for an easy-to-use analytical solution for the non-technical users. We initially tried the market-leading cube browser but found it not intuitive and functionally limiting. We had a lot of complaints about usability, so this became one of our primary considerations. In the midst of our frustration, we were introduced to PolyVista, and it was an immediate success. Easy to use, very flexible and robust (there are no charts complaining of too much data, or requirements to bring dimensions into my grid I only wanted to filter on), PolyVista more than fit the bill. On top of simply being a better cube browser, we now have a true appreciation for the unique Discovery functionality of PolyVista.

DELIVERABLES: PolyVista is used most often in an "interactive analysis" mode. Ad hoc queries and specific analyses are stored in PolyVista's own project files for easy retrieval and sharing. Alternately, users can export PolyVista data, tables and graphics to XML, HTML or Microsoft Office applications when needed.

VENDOR SUPPORT: PolyVista's product has proven to be a unique, useful and innovative tool. Their staff has delivered exceptional software support, training and professional services. As we grow our business, we see our relationship with PolyVista growing as well.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is fair. It does a great job covering the software's general features and functions, but some detailed explanations are lacking. For users without OLAP experience, the New Users Guide makes a perfect training manual (with a half day of training, we were up and running).

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