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WebFOCUS Heals Financial Reporting Ailments at University of Virginia Department of Medicine

  • April 11 2008, 9:39am EDT

REVIEWER: Elizabeth Wildman, vice chair and COO of University of Virginia Department of Medicine.

BACKGROUND: The University of Virginia Department of Medicine, which is overseen by the University of Virginia School of Medicine, is ranked 10th in the nation among state-assisted medical schools.

PLATFORMS: Dell Server running Microsoft Windows 2003 (supporting Information Builders WebFOCUS, Epicor, Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server).

PROBLEM SOLVED: The Department of Medicine’s financial data is split across two organizations, each with its own account system and each with its own set of accounting principles. The Health Services Foundation (HSF) uses an Epicor financial system based on Microsoft SQL Server, while the University and the School of Medicine use an Oracle-based fund accounting system. Each accounting system has unique interfaces and systems of record, forcing us to contend with mismatched accounting dates and two sets of accounting rules. This makes it difficult to consolidate information, leading to multiple bottom lines and causing confusion throughout the organization. We needed a reporting environment that was easy to use and could handle the needs of our physicians as well as our clinical and administration staffs. The WebFOCUS business intelligence solution allowed us to bring together data from diverse systems to enable unified data analysis on multiple levels.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We use WebFOCUS to manage expenses and create line-item profit and loss statements for all faculty members. The members use the clinical billing reports to track their financials and review administrative information. Each report includes a Web link so users can select parameters and drill down into the data. Many users are taking advantage of the new reporting environment, including more than 400 faculty members, dozens of division level administrators and the entire staff of three other departments in the School of Medicine. WebFOCUS has also dramatically increased the speed at which reports are created, saving both time and money. A report that normally would take a month to produce in Microsoft Excel is now completed in three hours using WebFOCUS. WebFOCUS saves the medical school an estimated $150,000 annually in labor costs and materials.

STRENGTHS: Because WebFOCUS reports are run on a Web browser, physicians can easily run them from home or while traveling. Also, many people can access these reports without complicating the IT infrastructure or adding to the initial costs. WebFOCUS has the ability to integrate with the department’s existing software and is accessible to users of all levels and expertise. The enterprise reporting system allows the department to analyze business data more thoroughly, leading to better business decisions. Administrators now have a better understanding of each employee’s productivity and are extending greater fiscal responsibility to individuals. WebFOCUS has given us a single reporting tool that meets the needs of 85 to 90 percent of our users. WebFOCUS has also given the faculty greater confidence in the financial reporting system and the numbers it produces.

WEAKNESSES: The graphical user interface development tools such as Report Assist and Graph Assist have not been very useful for our programmers, especially for financial data modeling. Also, some aspects of the FOCUS Modeling Language syntax are not consistent.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected WebFOCUS because it could bridge the two accounting systems, was flexible enough to handle all different types of reporting requirements and was tightly integrated with Microsoft Excel. Also, we favored Information Builders’ generous licensing terms that allowed us to purchase a set of licenses that could be distributed over multiple servers; this helped avoid any bottlenecks as usage increased by spreading the reporting application out to various servers without being required to buy additional licenses.

DELIVERABLES: WebFOCUS helps create productivity reports, management reports, human resource reports and grant reports.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Prior to deployment, our developers attended WebFOCUS training courses at Information Builders. Consultants from Information Builders were with us throughout the implementation process and provided additional support as needed after implementation. Their knowledge of the technology and our needs and aligning both properly was the best part of working with them. The WebFOCUS FocalPoint Development Training is a great resource.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for installation is well written and easy to understand.

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