REVIEWER: Volker Lowitsch, CIO University Hospital Aachen, Germany (UKA).

BACKGROUND: University Hospital Aachen (UKA) is unique in Germany: it combines every aspect of medical and dental patient care under a single roof. UKA also provides common research facilities for engineers, scientists and physicians.

PLATFORMS: SAS Strategic Performance Management currently runs on a dual-processor system using Pentium III, 933 GHz, 2GB RAM processors and Windows 2003 Server.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The German public health system is undergoing significant change, forcing hospitals to offer their services even more cost-effectively. While UKA has long been moving toward that goal, its IT infrastructure has lagged behind. Existing heterogeneous systems - including SAP modules for financial management, controlling, personnel management and inventory management, together with a hospital information system from Siemens (KIS) - were unable to supply UKA with reliable data. In particular, there was a lack of data consistency, yet a need to merge assorted data into a uniform evaluation system to prepare reports for broad distribution.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The SAS Strategic Performance Management system has transformed management practice. Routine reports are now converted very quickly - often one or two days after the initial request. Before the introduction of SAS, such queries required several weeks of effort, and often the queries could not be answered at all. Medical controlling, the business unit responsible for billing insurance companies, is a major beneficiary. With SAS, medical controlling has been able to improve the encoding of data stored in KIS, creating substantial cost advantages. Each day, UKA settles accounts worth €1 million. Thanks to SAS, the group can consolidate data more quickly and bill earlier, improving liquidity and avoiding interest losses. In practical terms, the ability to produce reports means patients are more likely to be treated quickly and at lower cost. Operations planning becomes more efficient when there are reports that demonstrate where the problems are over the course of a long process. Reporting in SAS means that operating theaters, doctors and technicians are all used optimally, minimizing waiting times for patients and maximizing revenue inflows from the insurance companies.

STRENGTHS: The figures supplied by SAS are absolutely dependable. UKA can fully rely on the integrity and consistency of the information. Additionally, the SAS system operates with an extremely high degree of stability. Thanks to the information delivered by the balanced scorecard that is based on SAS, internal processes can be quickly adapted to meet new demands and constantly optimized - a major contribution to the hospital's management.

WEAKNESSES: The solution does not support all of the calculation and aggregation options we want and can also be somewhat slow and awkward to work with. For example, the headings in the scorecard do not remain visible when you scroll down.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The decision to choose SAS was almost a foregone conclusion. SAS's technology leadership in the sector, long-term commitment in science and research, proven analytical tools and multisupplier integration platform were all important reasons for choosing SAS.

DELIVERABLES: With SAS, UKA has placed its hospital-wide information management on completely new footing. Thanks to SAS, there is now a common language at UKA: users see all the important performance data in near real time, and they have complete faith in the integrity and consistency of the information. Specifically, the balanced scorecard provides the board and hospital director with key data, including case data, patient satisfaction levels and the success of interdisciplinary initiatives. Reports are also available to a wide range of audiences, from patient management to controlling to specialty departments and clinics, which all view the information via a central information portal.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We had especially good support for the project with respect to methods and the system itself - these consultations actually cleared up some of our content-related questions. The assistance of SAS employees on overarching issues was also very good. However, there is a lack of expertise in the strategic performance management support hotline.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was complete and easy to understand.

SAS Strategic Performance Management
SAS Institute Inc.
100 SAS Campus Drive
Cary, NC 27513
(919) 677-8000

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