4-page Case Study
Posted: 4/15/2008
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Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Hospital Uses Business Intelligence Solution to Save Time and Gain Insight from Data

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is a leading pediatric hospital based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The hospital’s department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, which collects and analyzes patient specimens in specialized laboratories, needed to improve processes to meet the demands presented by the hospital’s growth. Specifically, the department sought to improve its data analysis and operational management processes. With the help of operational consultancy USC Consulting Group, the department implemented a management solution based on Microsoft® business intelligence technologies. As a result, the department has gained more insight into its data and has automated reporting processes, which has helped reduce laboratory result turnaround times by 50 percent. Department employees have improved communication, and supervisors can manage more effectively.

Situation

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* Doctors are getting lab tests back faster, and that means they’re more efficient. They can ... accept more patients as a result.  *
Dr. Bryan Wolf
Pathologist-in-Chief, Chair, and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
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The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of the leading pediatric hospitals and research facilities in the world. Founded in 1855, CHOP has 10,000 employees, who work in outpatient clinics and other facilities throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Each year, CHOP accepts approximately 25,000 inpatient admissions, 80,000 Emergency department visits, and more than 1,000,000 outpatient visits. All of these patients require laboratory testing, which is provided by the CHOP department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The more than 300 technologists and pathologists in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine work in specialized labs, where they annually collect and process more than 1 million blood samples and urine specimens.

For the past several years, CHOP has experienced a major increase in patients. In fact, from 1999 until early 2008, the number of specimens collected and analyzed by Pathology and Laboratory Medicine has doubled. To keep up with this growth, the department recently decided to upgrade its operational management processes. “We had very outdated, ineffective systems in place,” says Dr. Bryan Wolf, Pathologist-in-Chief, Chair, and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at CHOP. For example, technologists and pathologists used a laboratory-processing computer system from Meditech, which the department had installed in the late 1980s.

As good as this system was at collecting data, it was very limited in its ability to turn that data into actionable business intelligence. “It was easy to get lab results and basic reports, but we could not get the information we really needed, such as analysis that showed us how we were doing in terms of productivity,” says Wolf. “It was very difficult to extract useful data.”

The specimen collection processes presented another challenge. “Everything was manual,” Wolf says. “Because some laboratories had been consolidated, not all employees followed the same procedures for processing specimens, and they used incomplete, slow methods of reporting specimen information.” This made it difficult to get accurate report data, and department supervisors lacked the ability to track employee performance and determine accountability.

In order to resolve these operational road-blocks, the CHOP Pathology and Laboratory Medicine department sought to improve data analysis and lab processes. “With the system we were using, we were not efficient and could not deliver fast laboratory result turnaround times,” says Wolf. “Processing a typical lab specimen might take 40 minutes. That was too much time, considering we had more and more patients to handle.”

In May 2007, the department started searching for a new solution that could help reduce specimen cycle time and improve data quality.

Solution

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* We are finally able to analyze the data that we have in our lab information system, which we could not do at all previously.  *
Dr. Bryan Wolf
Pathologist-in-Chief, Chair, and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
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CHOP Pathology and Laboratory Medicine evaluated software solutions from three companies before deciding on USC Consulting Group. USCCG, a Microsoft® Certified Partner headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is an independent management consulting firm that implements management operating systems designed to improve hospital processes. “USCCG was the most impressive company of the three, and we knew they would offer us the most helpful solution for our needs,” Wolf says.

In June 2007, USCCG helped CHOP Pathology and Laboratory Medicine install a new management solution based on Microsoft business intelligence technologies. The solution uses integrated technologies that help organizations streamline the process of organizing and distributing data.

“CHOP had disparate methods for processing specimen collection,” says John D’Alesandro, Healthcare Practice Leader, USC Consulting Group. “There was variation in the way specimens were handled in every step, from doctor’s orders to results in the chart. Some were put together in batches, some were handled individually. The compounding effect of variation in every step and every handoff injected avoidable delay throughout the process. Our solution was to drive out variation as it occurred through the use of business intelligence and active process management.”

The new solution at CHOP, called Lean Information Control System (LINCS), includes enhanced analysis and reporting elements. For example, specimen data is now extracted from the department’s Meditech lab information system and sent to a Microsoft SQL Server® 2005–based database. There, technologists and pathologists process and analyze the data using the business intelligence features in Microsoft Office Excel® 2003 spreadsheet software and mapping features in Microsoft Office Visio® 2003 software and a third-party software solution called LeanView.

Technologists and pathologists at CHOP can now easily view how long a specimen has been waiting to be processed, cycle time, turnaround time, and other valuable data. This information is arranged in scorecards, which gives employees a fast, easy way to access cycle time performance; identify and circumvent delays in turnaround time; quantify team performance and productivity; and make the department’s performance more consistent and reliable.

Benefits

With its new business intelligence solution, CHOP Pathology and Laboratory Medicine has been able to transform its lab management processes and systems. The department has more useful data and automated operational processes, both of which have led to greatly reduced lab result turnaround times. Additionally, department employees can communicate better, and supervisors can manage employees more effectively.

More Useful Data

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* We now have a direct, objective window into performance, which makes all of our employees accountable. There is no question that this solution gives us the ability to manage performance and processes much better.  *
Dr. Bryan Wolf
Pathologist-in-Chief, Chair, and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
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CHOP Pathology and Laboratory Medicine now has a solution that delivers real-time operational data and reports to 100 technologists and pathologists. Most importantly, this data is based on detailed business intelligence that is highly useful to the department. “We are finally able to analyze the data that we have in our lab information system, which we could not do at all previously,” says Wolf. “We can now clearly see what is happening in terms of specimen collection and lab turnaround time, and as a result we have much more confidence in our data. For example, I can look at a report in SharePoint® Portal Server, and if it shows a slippage in turnaround time, I can clearly see what is causing that delay.”

The new system is also easy for employees to use, because it is partially based on Office Excel, a program they were already familiar with. “Because of that familiarity, our employees can easily extract and use the data they need,” Wolf says. “They can easily store and share data, as well as collaborate on projects.”

Automated Processes

LINCS provides the department with automated mechanisms to monitor and manage the processing of specimens across the entire operation. For example, the system automatically extracts specimen cycle time data from the Meditech system and sends it to the database. Lab technologists and pathologists simply use SQL Server to view scorecards, which display interactive charts containing updated lab result data.

“Before, we had many different procedures for specimen processing and reporting,” says Wolf. Now, however, the solution automates the reporting and reviewing system. “The reporting database is connected to our lab information system, which was not the case before,” says Wolf. “It automatically delivers up-to-date performance and operational data about how many specimens are collected and how long they’ve been waiting. With that sort of information at our fingertips, we can anticipate operational issues or delays and solve those problems before they can affect patients or doctors.”

Reduced Cycle Times

In the initial 10 weeks following implementation of the solution, CHOP Pathology and Laboratory Medicine reduced lab result turnaround time by 50 percent. “That is specifically because of the automation, combined with our new insight into our data,” says Wolf. “With this solution, we have been able to deliver lab results to doctors at the hospital in only 20 minutes.” 

Because of this reduction in turnaround time, the CHOP Emergency department will be able to see more patients. “Doctors are getting lab tests back faster, and that means they’re more efficient. They can treat individual patients more quickly, and ultimately accept more patients as a result. That will have a great impact on the hospital’s productivity,” Wolf says.

Better Communication

Because they now have an easy-to-use software solution that delivers useful data, technologists and pathologists can communicate better with one another and with supervisors. “We now have effective data management tools, based on Microsoft business intelligence technology, to use within our department,” says Wolf. “These tools give all of our employees the ability to better understand what stage the specimen process is at. Employees can function much better as a team now.”

In fact, the improved communication has completely transformed CHOP Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. “We all communicate more clearly and will be more productive,” Wolf says. “Ultimately, this solution is only the beginning for CHOP. I would like all laboratories at the hospital to use these same tools and processes because they can really enhance operational efficiency.”

More Effective Employee Management

Previously, supervisors in the CHOP Pathology and Laboratory Medicine department lacked the ability to track employee performance and determine accountability. Using new management tools and automated processes, these supervisors can be more effective in managing technologists and pathologists. “We never knew if lab technicians were productive, for example,” says Wolf. “Now, a supervisor can look at the data every day to see if turnaround times were slower than they were on the previous day. The supervisor can also see why those times were slower and can talk to a technologist about that. ”

This new insight means that supervisors can hold employees accountable for performance, which helps make the department more effective as a whole. “We want to ensure that we’re productive, and the determination of productivity is based on specimen turnaround times,” says Wolf. “We now have a direct, objective window into performance, which makes all of our employees accountable. There is no question that this solution gives us the ability to manage performance and processes much better.”

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 who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. 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 USC Consulting Group products and services, visit the Web site at:
www.usccg.com

For more information about the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia products and services, call (215) 590-1000 or visit the Web site at:
www.chop.edu

Microsoft Server Product Portfolio

For more information about the Microsoft server product portfolio, go to:
www.microsoft.com/servers/default.mspx

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Document published April 2008
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 10000 employees

Organization Profile

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Pathology and Laboratory Medicine department collects and processes laboratory specimens for more than 1,000,000 patients every year.


Business Situation

The Pathology and Laboratory Medicine department lacked the ability to analyze lab specimen data. Additionally, the department was hindered by manual, labor-intensive operational processes.


Solution

The department implemented a new software solution based on Microsoft® business intelligence technologies, including Microsoft Office Excel® 2003, Office Visio® 2003, and SQL Server® 2005.


Benefits
  • More useful data
  • Automated processes
  • Reduced cycle times
  • Better communication
  • More effective employee management

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2003
  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003
  • Microsoft Office Visio 2003

Vertical Industries
Health Provider

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
Business Intelligence and Reporting

Languages
English

Partner(s)
USC Consulting Group

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