CHAN Healthcare Auditors wanted to give its clients more strategic information than ever before—requiring the firm to implement a new level of business intelligence (BI). Still in its first phase, a solution based on Microsoft® technologies has supplied the workload data that CHAN needs to complete audits twice as quickly. The firm sees its new BI approach providing even more valuable information, which will lead to greater client satisfaction.
Cost containment is one of the biggest issues in healthcare delivery. Healthcare organizations of every type are pressed as never before—by insurance companies, by the public, by the government—to keep costs down. To do so, they must understand their current costs, identify areas for improvement, and implement best practices that will reduce those costs.
Doing that requires an internal audit. Which is where CHAN Healthcare Auditors—which focuses exclusively on providing internal audit services to the healthcare industry—comes in. The company has a permanent on-site presence at more than 20 healthcare networks across the United States, which operate more than 350 hospitals and healthcare facilities.
As the challenges of the healthcare industry have become more complex, CHAN has evolved its audit model to meet those challenges. In the traditional model, the audit checked an extremely broad number of standard processes and, when they were found lacking or faulty, the audit probed those areas in more detail. CHAN has adopted an updated model that starts by focusing on the highest-profile risks facing a healthcare organization and compares the organization’s processes with best practices based on CHAN’s knowledge of the industry.
Implementing this new audit model requires a level of business intelligence (BI) technology that CHAN hadn’t needed before. Previously it had been enough for auditors to informally poll their colleagues—using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 team sites—on common issues. Now those auditors need analysis that will help them pinpoint the biggest issues facing their clients and suggest best practices that will provide a running start to solving them.
CHAN Healthcare Auditors didn’t have far to go to identify the technology for its business intelligence solution. It was already using Microsoft SQL Server 2005 data management software for its custom audit application and Office SharePoint Server 2007 to facilitate collaboration among geographically dispersed auditors. “We are a Microsoft shop and we’ve had very good success with Microsoft technologies,” says Bart Cross, Chief Information Officer at CHAN Healthcare Auditors.
||The technology didn’t cause us to increase our performance—but it gave us the information that we needed to enable our people to double their performance.
Chief Information Officer, Chan Healthcare Auditors
CHAN decided to build on that success by adopting an end-to-end solution—including data warehouse, analysis, reporting, and user dashboards—based on Microsoft Business Intelligence technologies. That solution is currently in development with the participation of Oakwood Systems Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.
When completed, the solution will accept and integrate information from systems as disparate as auditing, intranet, finance, human resources, and information technology. SQL Server Integration Services will provide the extraction, transformation, and loading functions that will enable all data to reside in a single data warehouse based on SQL Server 2005. CHAN is actively planning for an upgrade to SQL Server 2008.
SQL Server Analysis Services will enable an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube that Bill Stanley, Technical Architect at Oakwood, describes as unusually complex in order to accommodate the nonaggregative data collected during audits. The OLAP cube will enable data mining and the creation of tactical and strategic reports on audit performance, the results of audits, and more, as well as more straightforward operational reports such as on the IT infrastructure or an individual’s Human Resources status.
Three distinct CHAN groups will access the BI data: executives, directors, and auditors. Each will go to a SharePoint site to view dashboards—created in Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007—that show the level of information for which members of that group are authorized. Reports with detailed information will be available through the dashboards, with operational reports created using SQL Server Reporting Services and analytical reports using ProClarity for Reporting Services.
The first phase of the CHAN Healthcare Auditors project, already completed, gives company executives at-a-glance status of audits for which their staffs are responsible. “That’s information that in the past was more time-consuming to obtain,” says Cross. “Executives had to call auditors for that information or wait for monthly reports. Now that information is available on a daily basis.”
Providing audit status information on a daily rather than monthly basis has important implications for CHAN. “If an auditor is spending too much time on one part of an audit, we can step in and correct the situation proactively, rather than waiting a month for the problem to grow.”
CHAN executives can make better decisions in other ways, too. For example, the firm was able this year to identify suboptimal trends in workload assignment and, by adjusting those workloads, complete twice as many audits in the first month of the system’s operation as it had a year before. “The technology didn’t cause us to double our performance—but it gave us the information that we needed to enable our people to double their performance,” says Cross.
While the first phase of the project has focused on audit performance, the second phase is focusing on analyzing information from the content of completed audits and enabling auditors to use that data to provide more valuable information to clients with each new audit that they undertake. “Our challenge is to continually provide more value to our clients,” says Cross. “The more value we provide, the happier our clients will be.”
Cross anticipates that the new audit model enabled by Microsoft Business Intelligence will make clients very happy. “This is a service that we see them getting nowhere else, and Microsoft BI will help us deliver it,” he says.