BACKGROUND: Johns Hopkins HealthCare (JHHC), a joint venture between Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Health Systems, provides managed care services throughout the mid-Atlantic region. JHHC provides care management support services for preventative and primary medical care, specialist services and hospital care.

PLATFORMS: Microsoft Windows NT.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Information was not accessible to business users. We were satisfied with the data warehouse attached to our claims system, but front-end reports were not built to our needs. There were major information gaps throughout the organization because a person needed a high level of technical expertise to execute SQL queries and extract data from the warehouse. Business users requested data from IS staff, and together they would try to define the exact content of a desired report. If the report was not defined exactly or if the report request was not clear, IS had to start over, and the report request went to the bottom of the pile. Days would pass before the paper report was delivered. This process proved to be too slow and inefficient, so we implemented DI-Atlantis as a solution. Now, through a single point-and-click interface, business users execute queries on their own desktops and generate reports instantly.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: JHHC is able to control and update information that is widely distributed throughout different departments. Business users receive, generate and "dive" into reports by accessing multidimensional models from their desktops. DI-Atlantis updates models with the latest monthly data when we repopulate the data warehouse. Models are designed and tailored to include pieces of information that relate directly to what business users want. A model designed to cover provider profiling, for example, allows business users at a remote site to show a provider where he is in relation to his colleagues. If a provider claims that his patients are sicker, the business user is able to go down to the level of detail in the model that proves or disproves his theory, on the spot. Providers are able to see where the information is coming from and are well-informed.

STRENGTHS: DI-Atlantis is very user friendly. It's easy for people once they've had a little training to move through the data on their own. Users see results immediately and gain greater insight into the data. Because they get the information in the form of a spreadsheet or graph, they are able to evaluate the output and determine if the information is what they really want. If it is not what they want, they simply go back a step or two and try it a different way, rather than getting pushed to the bottom of the pile. As people explore the multidimensional models, they may think of a data element or a calculation to enhance their queries. DI-Atlantis allows them to modify or create new models as needed.

WEAKNESSES: People who analyze data always want more real variables, more dimensions. The newer version of DI-Atlantis does allow you to have more variables, but it slows response time. We are learning that bigger models are not always better, and we will design multiple small models in the future rather than the few large ones we have now.

SELECTION CRITERIA: After a competitive evaluation, DI-Atlantis was chosen for its cost-effectiveness, ease of use and depth of functionality.

DELIVERABLES: For the first time, business users are able to dive into a range of critical healthcare indicators such as bed occupancy, reason for admission, average length of stay, trends in admissions and rates of referral. They navigate through data in a way that makes sense, without having to determine the navigation route in advance. Having access and the ability to manipulate data helps improve the quality of services and ensures that appropriate care is provided in the appropriate setting.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor support has been very good. Dimensional Insight worked with our CSC Healthcare consultant to analyze our business needs, assess data quality and install a solution. We're on a first-name basis with several people at Dimensional Insight.

DOCUMENTATION: The manual is a good reference and is improved with the release of the latest version.

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