4-page Case Study
Posted: 6/29/2010
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NHS Nottinghamshire PCT Healthcare Commissioner Gains Insights and Decision-Making Power with BI

NHS Nottinghamshire County, a Primary Care Trust (PCT), commissions healthcare—through its contracts with care providers—for 650,000 county residents. Focused on performing at peak levels as well as planning for and delivering ever-higher quality services, the PCT is embracing Microsoft Business Intelligence technologies. Now, with fast and easy access to meaningful information, the organization is improving productivity and making informed decisions to meet the present-day and future needs of its community.


The National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom is the world’s largest publicly funded health service. At the heart of the NHS, and controlling the majority of its budget, are local primary care trusts, which work with area authorities to provide health and social care services to their communities.

NHS Nottinghamshire County Primary Care Trust (PCT) serves Nottinghamshire county, a community of 650,000 residents located in east central England.

* BI is quite simply taking the hand cuffs off right across the organization — even a limitless budget couldn’t have liberated us in this way.*

Andy Hall
Associate Director of Performance
Nottinghamshire County PCT

Created in 2006, when six former area PCTs merged, Nottinghamshire County PCT focuses on improving the quality of patient care and the levels of efficiency and productivity by which it is planned and delivered.

Since the merger and facing current and future financial challenges—to include meeting the needs of an aging population—the PCT’s finance and performance teams seized opportunities to affect positive change by using business intelligence (BI) technologies.

Operationally, the trust wanted to leverage BI to transform its systems and equip its people to function more efficiently. Priorities included unlocking data hidden in multiple disparate legacy systems and creating a new, highly accessible and automated system that would be easily used by a wide range of staff.

PCT management also wanted a BI solution that would help at a strategic level, particularly with commissioning.

As with all NHS PCTs, commissioning is a process to ensure that the healthcare provided effectively meets the needs of the population. It includes: assessing population needs, prioritizing health outcomes, procuring products and services, and managing service providers.

“Effective healthcare commissioning requires good decision-making and expert analysis using solid evidence; therefore, we must excel at business intelligence,” says Andy Hall, Associate Director of Performance, Nottinghamshire County PCT.


In 2009 Nottinghamshire PCT began its progressive BI approach by teaming with technology partner 21C. 21C provides health and social care BI portals based upon Microsoft BI technologies and best practice data warehouse design methodologies.

Introducing ROBIN

21C’s first step was to build a core BI platform that would meet the trust’s needs for seamless data integration, centralized storage and access, and business productivity tools.

Accordingly, 21C implemented a data warehouse and BI portal built on Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Microsoft SharePoint 2007 (including PerformancePoint Server 2007) and Microsoft Office 2007.

* Effective healthcare commissioning requires good decision-making and expert analysis using solid evidence; therefore, we must excel at business intelligence.*

Andy Hall
Associate Direcctor of Performance
Nottinghamshire County PCT


SQL Server extracts diverse data from multiple sources at the trust, for example, clinical, capacity and contract cost data, and then consolidates, standardizes, and organizes it. Where it previously took weeks, the new data warehouse makes this critical information instantly available to individuals and teams via a single point of access—the SharePoint portal.

Technical and non-technical staff take advantage of SharePoint’s powerful and flexible BI tools, including dashboards for assessing and publishing activity status, and action items, and key performance indicators (KPIs) for evaluating progress made against measurable goals.

Also noteworthy, the organization is the first NHS PCT to adopt 21C’s new General Practitioner (GP) Appraisal and Revalidation application. Based on SharePoint 2007’s electronic forms and automated work flow capabilities, the solution allows evaluating authorities to access information in real-time to make informed recommendations about GP revalidations. In the past, this was a laborious manual process for the PCT, involving lots of paper and multiple, spreadsheets and databases.

Begun as a pilot in 2009 and deployed in early 2010, the PCT aptly named their new BI solution “ROBIN” and is making significant headway in expanding it.

Advancing the ROBIN BI System

Now, the PCT is taking another step forward by adopting Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, and a new 21c solution called the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA).

According to Paul Henderson, CEO of 21C, making the choice to upgrade and develop on the new platforms was easy. “We could see right away that these new BI technologies performed faster, were more easily supported, and offered valuable and easy to use tools in one place—all of which are compelling to NHS trusts.“

Henderson adds: “We think PowerPivot is going to be one of the more liberating and valuable solutions in our BI toolset going forward because of its robust interrogative capabilities and ease of use.”

Built on Microsoft’s next generation platforms, 21C’s JSNA will help NHS PCTs assess and make decisions about potential future consumption of social and health-care services in their localities. It offers 150 national data sets related to population demographics, lifestyle, health indicators, etc. and connects people to the data via single clicks and visually rich and easy to understand interactive maps and charts.

“JSNA leverages innovative features in SharePoint 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2, such as Bing mapping, PowerPivot and Silverlight, so that no matter the skill or position level the technology works the way our customers want it to,” says Henderson.

The application will soon be available to the public, allowing people to click through to their exact location on a map, add points of interest (such as GPs) and then see their location change color to view meaningful, benchmarked indicators related to their own communities.“Bing mapping opens up 150 data sources to users who can only stand one or two mouse clicks before they lose interest or get lost in functionality,” notes Henderson.

Also, with SharePoint’s new search, security and governance features, it means that the application can be hosted by a share/managed service in Nottingham, which is typically the way the NHS supports IT functions.


Connecting and Empowering People

Today, many employees at the PCT and in the General Practice are taking advantage of ROBIN’s easy, centralized access and powerful tools.

The PCT is seeing productivity rise across the organization, from increased time-savings for individuals and teams, as they become operationally more efficient, to calibrating demand for clinical services, so that patients can be treated more effectively.

Previously, trust analysts spent frustrating hours on mundane data manipulation because the information was siloed. Now, with a single point of entry to fully integrated data, these experts have more time to focus on performance management priorities.

Doctors— a professional group that typically resists complex or time-consuming business technology—at the PCT are now engaged. Hall notes: “On a secure domain and with permission-based access, our GPs now have easy and fast access to patient information via a standard desktop browser.”

* JSNA leverages innovative features in SharePoint 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2, such as Bing mapping, PowerPivot and Silverlight, so that no matter the skill or position level the technology works the way our customers want it to.*

Paul Henderson

Today, PCT Board members not only have single click access, but new forms of BI to consider, such as trend and exception reports.

Hall sums up the impact of the newly gained data access and visibility: “BI is quite simply taking the hand cuffs off across the organization—even a limitless budget couldn’t have liberated us in this way.”

Informed Decisions for Better Delivery

At the strategic level, the BI solution provides the trust with better insights and decision-making power to improve health care delivery.

Using SQL Server’s integrated data sets and interrogation tools, PCT analysts are able to benchmark across all of its providers, for example, showing levels of emergency admissions for diabetes by GP practice.

“The new evidence-based system is helping us make effective decisions about serious healthcare issues and related services, such as prevention programs for the community and urgent care services for patients with long term conditions,” comments Hall.

Momentum with Microsoft BI

Nottinghamshire PCT expects further gains with the roll out of SQL Server 2008 R2, SharePoint 2010 and JSNA later this year.

Test teams from 21c, the PCT and the County Council point to several highlights of Microsoft’s new platforms: highly useful visualization tools, such as geo-spatial mapping, improved ease of use and expanded self-service capabilities.

“From what we’ve seen, the ease of use factor and speed of the new Microsoft technologies, combined with the outputs from the JSNA toolset, are impressive,” says Hall.

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: www.microsoft.com

For more information about 21c products and services, visit the Web site at: www.21c.it

For more information about NHS Nottinghamshire County Primary Care Trust, visit the Web site at: www.nottspct.nhs.uk

Microsoft Business Intelligence

Microsoft provides a comprehensive set of business intelligence technologies that enable organizations to improve performance through better decision making. Microsoft Business Intelligence helps small and large businesses maximize the value of their data through timely analysis and knowledge sharing. Powered by Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint and Office, Microsoft Business Intelligence solutions provide increased value to users throughout the organization.

For more information about Microsoft Business Intelligence solutions, go to: www.microsoft.com/bi

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview

Organization Size: 600 employees

Organization Profile

NHS Nottinghamshire County Primary Care Trust (PCT) commissions healthcare and supports social services for 650,000 county residents.

Business Situation

Post a merger and facing increasing financial challenges, the PCT sought better information access and analysis to improve strategic decision-making.


With the help of 21C, the trust adopted an end-to-end solution based on Microsoft Business Intelligence.


  • Integrates disparate data sources
  • Expands information access and insights
  • Improves productivity
  • Facilitates informed decision-making

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Excel 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
  • Microsoft Silverlight 3
  • Microsoft .NET Framework
  • Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Integration Services

Vertical Industries

United Kingdom

Business Need
Business Intelligence and Reporting