Over the past several years, health care reform has forced hospitals to reduce costs while improving the quality of patient care. This requires hospitals to have an in-depth understanding of their business and competitive market. Traditionally, hospitals have not had access to the critical competitive market data necessary to analyze efficiency and make cost-saving decisions. The data has been housed in several incompatible databases, requiring weeks of work to integrate and analyze. Premier, Inc. is the largest hospital alliance in the United States. We provide 1800 hospitals with competitive information about their industry, including market share, pricing, efficiency, and quality of care and service information. We recently developed Market Vantage, a competitive positioning decision support system (DSS), using tools from MicroStrategy. Market Vantage allows member hospitals to access this information quickly and easily through an intuitive interface.


The data warehouse team at Premier, Inc.
With Market Vantage, we have significantly impacted the way hospitals make business decisions. We are providing lightning-speed access to the most in-depth levels of health care data via an intuitive interface. Hospitals now have a firm foundation on which to make decisions that increase overall efficiency by saving time and cutting costs.

Benefits

We have eliminated endless hours of work that was spent querying our database and generating custom reports. With access to the most atomic-level data from a single interface, we can now generate a highly detailed, customized report requested by a member hospital in a matter of seconds.

Due to this time saving, we estimate actual dollar savings of $350,000 to $450,000 per year in full-time employment costs and expenses, allowing us to focus on and develop other products.

Benefits to Our Customers

Recently, one of our hospitals used Market Vantage to discover that most of the patients living in its county were traveling to a competing hospital in another county for vascular surgery because the hospital did not provide that service. Through Market Vantage the hospital discovered that this business could generate over $9 million per year. They are now developing a new vascular surgery service line to capture that business and allow patients to stay closer to home.

Another health provider, Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Systems, was interested in identifying areas for operational improvement and turned to Market Vantage to determine areas where it could reduce costs. Within just four months we were able to show the hospital specifically which procedures could be performed at a lower cost without sacrificing quality of care based on a benchmark of costs and best practices in hospitals across the country. Fairview is currently redesigning the systems within its hospitals and will immediately realize $2 million in cost reductions.

Market Vantage has replaced competing products in almost every hospital where it is currently being utilized. These competing products typically provide less valuable data yet cost 50-100 percent more than Market Vantage. In the first three years using Market Vantage, our member hospitals are expected to realize a savings of $750,000 versus the cost of the previous system.

Market Vantage allows hospitals to quickly analyze where they stand financially versus other hospitals throughout the country. The first day hospitals use Market Vantage they can easily analyze which areas of practice they need to target to improve operations or reduce costs. The learning curve has been shortened immensely, as previously complex questions, "How does my market share vary by physician?" or "What are my costs relative to my competitors, by procedure, for Medicare patients?" can be answered quickly.

Prior to Market Vantage, we would order data tapes (40 nine-track tapes) from HCFA (Health Care Financing Administration) and the data was read into an IBM AS/400 where it was then transferred to multiple 8mm tapes. When a report was requested, we would load only the data needed for that particular analysis. The rest of the data remained off-line on the 8mm tapes. We had developed only four standard data reports for member hospitals. When a custom report had to be developed, one of our developers was responsible for locating the correct data, reading it into the database, programming the report, running the report, assuring the quality of the report and delivering the report. Too much time was spent developing and delivering custom reports.

Market Vantage includes a point-and-click interface, comprehensive drill-down capability, integrated color graphics and unparalleled processing speed. All of the information needed is on-line, all reports can be run directly from the desktop or a remote location, and no intervention is needed by the developer. Over 2000 custom interactive reports have been designed and tested and are available for immediate access. Market Vantage has allowed hospitals to focus on providing the most cost-effective, efficient care for their patients.

The back end of Market Vantage is a 40GB Red Brick 5.0 database with over 200 million rows. Market Vantage runs on a DEC Alpha (UNIX). It includes six levels of aggregation with 24 dimensions.

Market Vantage runs on DSS Server, which resides at our office in Charlotte, North Carolina, on a Compaq Windows NT Server. Hospitals utilize either DSS Agent for their query generation with a RAS dial-up to access the information or DSS Web via a standard Web browser. We utilize DSS Administrator for overall administration of Market Vantage on an ongoing basis. We developed Market Vantage using the following MicroStrategy tools:

DSS Architect was utilized during project development to define a logical multidimensional model of the data warehouse that allows users to easily navigate through data using familiar business terms.

DSS Agent is an intuitive, decision support Windows interface as well as a power-user discovery tool.

DSS Executive allows reports to be embedded into an easy-to-navigate graphical executive information system. This front end can be customized without programming and is built of modular DSS Agent objects.

DSS Objects allows serious application developers to integrate DSS Agent objects into their own custom applications.

DSS Server is a relational OLAP server that enables users to conduct powerful analysis and complex calculations.

DSS Web allows DSS Agent reports to be deployed to thin clients over the Web.

DSS Administrator automatically monitors usage of all deployed DSS applications at the lowest level of detail allowing for centralized maintenance and management.

The one area that we would change and recommend for companies would be to have greater emphasis on Web delivery of data. The Web should be the platform of choice for delivering data from the data warehouse.

It is important to know what your goals are when beginning a data warehouse initiative. Market Vantage has saved us development dollars and allowed us to focus on expanding our business, while helping our customers make smart business decisions.

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