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Business intelligence tools help hospitals improve efficiency

Better use of data brings strong ROI

When it comes to improving your organization's patient flow, choosing the right tools is as important as developing the right plan.  

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital looked to TeleTracking solutions to maintain its competitive edge in Philadelphia, one of the more fertile markets for healthcare in the United States.

Jefferson Hospital recently took a number of steps to improve its operational efficiency, said Megan Johnston, MHSA, who manages the hospital's patient flow management center. 

The hospital focused on communication and coordination efforts related to patient flow. The TeleTracking XT suite was applied to admission processes across all departments.

"We offer time/capacity management," said Jason Harber, TeleTracking vice president of product management. "It tells you who's in the beds, who is taking care of people in the beds, how quickly beds are being cleaned, how quickly patients are being moved.

"You're seeing in real time what capacity is, current vs. budgeted, so you're not shocked at the end of the month. You know daily whether you're making the numbers you thought you were."

Changes at Jefferson Hospital yielded improvements in several key areas, Johnston said, including emergency department boarding hours, diversion hours, external transfers and patient and staff satisfaction.

"As a teaching hospital and tertiary care center, external transfers and critical care patients are really a critical part of our mission," Johnston said. In addition to the need to maintain optimal patient safety, "a number of competing systems are all within a couple of miles of us. External transfers and volume in general is critical for us to remain competitive."

In all, Jefferson Hospital realized a return on investment of $1.5 million in the first year.

"TeleTracking gives you real-time information," Johnston said. "And that allows you to be much more pro-active. And in patient flow, that's where you really want to be." 

Ease of use is a major selling point for Axiom EPM, a leading provider of unified performance management software. Axiom embeds modeling and planning capabilities in the familiar Microsoft Excel format, allowing users to manage data without the need to learn a new application. 

Axiom brings together the processes needed to define, articulate and execute strategic plans, offering capabilities in multi-year financial forecasting, initiative planning and tracking, KPI monitoring and scorecards and flexible reporting.

"Flexibility is the best thing about Axiom," said Jeff Blankenship, chief financial officer at West Tennessee Healthcare, a 5,000-employee, seven-hospital system serving half million people between Memphis and Nashville. West Tennessee has annual net revenue of about $500 million. "We can add new data sources as we need. Much of that we were able to do without calling in tech support."

Blankenship said he turned to Axiom as a tool to help improve accountability for financial results and transparency for the management team. In February and March, West Tennessee intended to roll out Axiom as the system's information management portal. "On the continuum of what we're trying to do, it was a pretty big step forward for us."

Axiom's use of Excel for presenting reports differentiates it from more IT-centric solutions, said Jay Spence, director of product and industry solutions at Axiom.

"The Excel tie-in was huge for us on the finance end," Blankenship said. "It was easy to use, and we wanted the flexibility to grow it, expand it and implement our own variance accountability process."

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