REVIEWER: Marilyn Daly, chief information officer Neighborhood Health Plan.

BACKGROUND: Neighborhood Health Plan is a licensed, not-for-profit managed care organization serving more than 190,000 members in Massachusetts, the first U.S. state to mandate universal health care coverage. With approximately 400 employees, NHP’s mission is to provide accessible health care delivery systems that are member-focused, quality driven and culturally responsive to members’ needs. NHP was ranked number two in Medicaid and ranked in the top 50 Commercial health plans in America in the November 2008 US News and World Reports, “America’s Best Health Plans.”

PLATFORMS: Microsoft Business Intelligence platform: Microsoft SQL Server 2005, Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services, Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services, and Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services, Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 (now part of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server), Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Microsoft Office Professional 2007, Microsoft Office Excel 2007, Excel Services in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In addition to our significant growth of membership, we were also faced with an increasing demand for data and actionable information both internally and externally through growing and changing regulatory reporting requirements, greater demands for information by health care providers, and internal data needs to manage and trend NHP’s medical expenses. The demand for information was growing at a pace in which the current ad hoc writing of reports based on a request could not be sustained. We needed to create and deploy a self- service reporting infrastructure that would allow our business customers access to reliable information faster and more accurately. The majority of our BI consisted of coding ad hoc reports. Our analysts spent valuable time requesting and validating data, rather than analyzing data to move the business forward. With a solid data warehouse, data marts and data cubes in place, we needed a solution that would provide our users access to information that would leverage standard predefined data definitions and access to valid information fast. Moving the organization from ad hoc analyst-defined data to a stable, consistent and reliable BI platform has dramatically improved the quality, accuracy and consistency of our data. This approach and design allows us to act quickly to respond to changing business needs to leverage the highly skilled IT procedural coders to focus on regulatory and complex data needs that cannot be served through the use of the data marts or data cubes.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We needed to simplify our data environment, de-emphasize the focus on technology and concentrate on using information more strategically. We decided to build off our Microsoft SQL Server data warehouse foundation, added Microsoft software throughout the organization and eliminated IBM WebSphere and several other reporting products. In 2008, NHP spent $2.2 million hiring consultants to create ad hoc reports. Now, after deploying the integrated Microsoft BI solution, we have reduced that budget spend to zero. In addition, we were able to save a great deal of money by reducing the number of reporting systems and the licensing costs needed to support them.

STRENGTHS: With the integrated Microsoft BI solution, we have been able to improve data quality and eliminate multiple reporting tools that produced different results. Anyone authorized to access information can do so easily using a Web browser. With this easy-to-use interface, new report requests can be fulfilled in a few days rather than weeks, and we’ve also set up standard reports that can be reused as needed. Our analysts aren’t spending their time validating data anymore. They’re actually being analysts, and that gives us a competitive advantage. During a time of rapid change in health care, NHP has been able to increase its membership, recruit new providers, and fulfill its regulatory requirements because data access and reporting have been successfully implemented.

WEAKNESSES: Some components of the solution are more mature than others. For example, we believe that enhancements are needed in the area of dashboard creation and customization.

SELECTION CRITERIA: In November 2007, we signed an enterprise agreement with Microsoft to consolidate much of our infrastructure on a single platform. This greatly reduced licensing maintenance costs. The new infrastructure has also allowed us to redeploy IT staff because the infrastructure requires less overall support. Because users now have self-service access to information and don’t have to wait for programmers to code and process ad hoc reports, we’ve been able to greatly speed up the delivery and publishing of information.

DELIVERABLES: By reducing the complexity of our data environment, we’ve been able to provide a single source of truth for data definitions. We now have simple tools that allow our users to create reusable data queries that are built once and are being used over and over again. And with our centralized reporting portal, based on SharePoint, users have a much more flexible and user-friendly method to access the information, which further reduces dependency on IT.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We worked closely with Accelare, a Microsoft Certified Partner, to implement our BI solution. They were instrumental in helping us simplify our environment and were extremely knowledgeable about the technology and integration methods. They contributed greatly to our ability to generate results on Day One.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation available for the products was very easy to understand.

Microsoft BI

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(425) 882-8080

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