To support the implementation of healthcare reform and cope with decreasing budgets, healthcare providers need to find new ways of estimating patient demand and planning institutional development. In 2010, KMS, a provider of data warehouse solutions for the healthcare industry, used Microsoft SQL Azure to help create EYE ON HEALTH, a centralized database that delivers comprehensive healthcare information to hospitals across Germany. With EYE ON HEALTH, KMS will enhance patient care and make healthcare management more efficient.
Real Impact Summary
KMS Vertrieb und Services AG provides data solutions for the healthcare industry. To help its customers use information more profitably and to develop new insights and services, KMS centralized multiple sources of healthcare data in one single location. The company recognized that it could use cloud technology—remote computing resources delivered as services over the Internet—to develop a common healthcare database. In 2010, KMS used the cloud-based Microsoft SQL Azure database service to help create EYE ON HEALTH, a centralized pool of demographic, clinical, and infrastructure data.
“Until now, high-quality data records, such as an updated physician list, have been very expensive—up to €100,000 [U.S.$135,200],” says Alois G. Steidel, Founder and CEO of KMS. “By pooling data in a single source, we can offer a service that is affordable for more hospitals.”
With EYE ON HEALTH, healthcare organizations can analyze data geographically and identify specific medical needs in particular communities, such as the number of diabetics. Providers can then forecast care needs and optimize admissions, while investors can analyze market environments and plan future services. By presenting comprehensive information in a simple-to-analyze geographic format, KMS has improved patient care and has had a real impact on more efficient healthcare management.
“The competition in the hospital sector makes geo-marketing very important,” says Dr. Philipp Morakis, Head of Medical Performance and Controlling at Karlsruhe General Hospital. “Geographic information helps us with everything, from referral management to strategic planning.”
The Full Impact Story
A Need to Centralize Multiple Data Sources
In 1996, Alois G. Steidel founded KMS to help the healthcare industry manage facilities, staffing, and patient needs. With 27 employees and offices in Munich, Germany, KMS provides comprehensive data warehouse solutions for more than 400 hospitals in Germany.
||“By using EYE ON HEALTH, a clinic is only a few mouse-clicks away from finding out which services other providers are offering, where the patients are coming from, and what the growth potential is for specific services.”
||Alois G. Steidel
To help implement healthcare reform and manage shrinking budgets, healthcare providers have to find new ways to reach patients. In order to estimate future demand for healthcare and plan business development, hospitals need market comparison figures, information on physicians, and population statistics, but those data are often difficult and expensive to collect and manage. According to Mr. Steidel, it can take up to eight weeks just to update his customers’ IT systems with legal changes, which occur frequently. “It takes the utmost effort to regularly update a database with the latest market figures,” says Mr. Steidel. “And every clinic, insurance provider, and benefactor operates its own data storage.”
Analyses that went beyond the scope of a specific organization were very difficult to complete. To provide a benchmark with comparable providers or a market survey for physicians, KMS often had to feed external information into a database. Mr. Steidel realized that if KMS could make multiple databases available in a single location, hospitals and other healthcare organizations could find and use that information more easily, and by more effectively combining the data, the industry could develop new insights and services.
Mr. Steidel recognized that KMS could use cloud technology—remote computing resources delivered as services over the Internet—to develop a common data pool for all its customers. In 2010, KMS used the cloud-based Microsoft SQL Azure database service, a component of the Windows Azure development, service hosting, and service management environment, to help create a vibrant and growing pool of demographic and clinical data, lists of physicians, and infrastructure data.
“The challenge lays in making accessible market and corporate data of the best possible quality,” says Mr. Steidel. “Many companies have spent a lot of money to build knowledge platforms, but they have never managed to deliver cost-effective and sustainable services. We saw how we could use SQL Azure to collect any type of data from the health management industry and make it centrally available.”
New Business Model, Multifaceted Information
KMS offers a database service called EYE ON HEALTH, which uses a radically different business model. Basic information services are available at www.eye-on-health.com free of charge, while users can also purchase enhanced data packages. The fee for an advanced package depends on the size of the organization, but it averages €5000 (U.S.$6,900) a year. “Our customers already pay for the maintenance of their data pools, and we wanted to create an added value,” says Mr. Steidel. “Until now, high-quality data records, such as an updated physician list, have been very expensive—up to €100,000 [U.S.$135,200]. By pooling data in a single source, we can offer a service that is affordable for more hospitals.”
To achieve high relevance at low cost, KMS collects data from different sources, such as addresses from a mass-mail service or age structure and income data through a partnership with the Steinbeis Foundation in Stuttgart. “The various data sources have very different natures,” says Mr. Steidel. “We check, enhance, and combine these data in the cloud, and the result is a joined data set of high quality and value.”
KMS uses Bing maps to display EYE ON HEALTH information in a geographical context, so that it is easy to understand and analyze. To meet high standards of data protection required in the healthcare sector, EYE ON HEALTH delivers noncritical data from the SQL Azure public database into the customer’s own applications and only then mixes that information with sensitive, internal data. Users can access noncritical data at www.eye-on-health.com without being a registered user, but private information is safeguarded against unauthorized use by logging on with a personal account and password.
Real Impact for Better Healthcare Management
With data to which they have never had access before, KMS customers can use EYE ON HEALTH to determine healthcare trends, get a detailed overview of referring and non-referring physicians, and make decisions faster. For instance, hospitals can use EYE ON HEALTH to quickly prepare reports that compare their economic performance with their competitors within a 100-kilometer radius—information they need to obtain loans for new equipment and facilities.
“Before, the reports often took months to prepare,” says Mr. Steidel. “But by using EYE ON HEALTH, a clinic is only a few mouse-clicks away from finding out which services other providers are offering, where the patients are coming from, and what the growth potential is for specific services.”
KMS guarantees that the EYE ON HEALTH database is continually updated and maintained, which helps hospitals optimize admissions of patients, analyze healthcare needs in specific markets, and develop profitable policies. For example, EYE ON HEALTH can display the number of diabetics in individual cities, which helps healthcare providers to forecast the needs for basic medical care in a particular region.
By offering the EYE ON HEALTH database to the healthcare industry and presenting information geographically, KMS has improved patient care and has helped healthcare professionals and investors to make healthcare management more efficient. Patients can locate clinics and examine service portfolios, while investors can analyze market environments and plan future services.
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