Wairarapa District Health Board has replaced incompatible systems with a range of Microsoft business solutions – PerformancePoint Server, SharePoint Server and SQL Server.
“We needed IT solutions that would enable our management team to make more informed decisions around improving performance,” said Wairarapa District Health Board Performance and Analysis Manager John Kirkup. “Our biggest problem was the lack of easy access to reliable data. While our data collection was good, it was stored in different programmes that did not share information easily.”
Servicing a region north of Wellington that stretches from Mount Bruce to Cape Palliser, Wairarapa District Health Board (DHB) is a government-owned entity responsible for planning, funding and providing health and disability services to around 39,000 people. It maintains numerous publicly funded health service providers throughout the region, including Wairarapa Hospital, a network of General Practitioners (GPs), an ambulance service, pharmacies, dental practices, community mental health service providers and rest homes.
The Health Board has four core functions:
- To improve and protect health
- To promote the care, support and independence of people with disabilities
- To reduce the differences between the health of population groups, particularly between Maori and non-Maori
- To encourage community participation in health improvement and health planning.
In order to achieve these goals, the Wairarapa DHB carries out a health needs analysis every three years. This research is then used to prioritise work and set up funding programmes that best serve the community’s healthcare needs. In addition, the Minister of Health sets six national health targets that all of the country’s 21 DHBs are expected to reach, which the government ranks performance against on a quarterly basis.
For the management team at Wairarapa DHB, achieving these government-set targets and performing their own four core functions is a data-intensive operation. With some 600 employees, thousands of patient events and millions of dollars worth of equipment and assets this is no small task. Operational aspects of the business range from financial reporting, through to personnel and service delivery, all of which must be analysed with numerous sources of data for each.
A fragmented legacy reporting system meant Wairarapa DHB managers were unable to efficiently access all the crucial data they needed to make informed decisions around improving performance. A robust, cohesive and adaptable performance management solution was required.
||We choose the Microsoft offering because our IT personnel had SQL experience, there was tight integration with the Microsoft Office products, the future Business Intelligence roadmap of Microsoft met our ongoing requirements, and the solution was value for money
Performance and Analysis Manager
Wairarapa District Health Board
The need for a single data portal
As a government entity, standard practice is for a full Request for Proposal (RFP) process to be undertaken. This began with an initial Expression of Interest period yielding 12 responses. From this, five were selected to tender. Kirkup and his team selected a Microsoft solution based around Microsoft SQL Server 2008 with business intelligence provided by Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server forming the basis for the front end. It was an end-to-end Microsoft ecosystem that allowed the team at the Wairarapa DHB to begin transforming the reporting system into one that allowed managers to access all the data they required from a single portal.
“We choose the Microsoft offering because our IT personnel had SQL experience, there was tight integration with the Microsoft Office products, the future Business Intelligence roadmap of Microsoft met our ongoing requirements, and the solution was value for money,” explained Kirkup.
Building these SQL Server 2008 powered data repositories and then integrating them with the various sources using Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 was the main focus of the project. Since the Wairarapa DHB first undertook this project, the key components of PerformancePoint Server 2007 — scorecard, dashboard and analytical — have been consolidated into Office SharePoint Server Enterprise and rebranded as PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint.
Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Altis Consulting, an Information Management specialist firm, primed the engagement with additional capabilities provided by Prophesy Limited, experts in PerformancePoint and data security, and DesignerTech, for software installation and configuration. This partnership between the three companies is one that Kirkup speaks highly of.
“Altis and their partners were really good – totally on the same wavelength as us around the whole performance management idea, and they could see the value in the solution. They were able to quickly visualise our challenges, and listened to what we had to say.”
“Altis also had experience with two other DHBs. This meant they had background knowledge so didn’t need to relearn all the intricacies involved in running a DHB,” added Kirkup.
Microsoft Consulting Services were brought in at the start to provide specific advice on those “curly questions that always come up”.
The project, which is ongoing, began in December 2008 with a proof of concept phase lasting through to January 2009. Next, a pilot phase was run from March to May 2009, after which implementation began on the financial reporting aspect of the system. The majority of this work was completed by December 2009.
Implementing the personnel side of things is next on the to-do list, a project Kirkup says will be up and running by mid-2010. He believes this will potentially be the single most important aspect of the completed system, with personnel making up 70 percent of the DHB’s costs.
Reaping the benefits, now and in the future
By mid-2010 a manager will be able to obtain all the information they require, be it financial reporting, personnel or service delivery, from a single place.
“One of our big things was to try and reduce the number of different places managers were getting information from,” says Kirkup. “The whole idea of our solution is that it is a one stop shop. That’s why we’ve called the project Fingertips – because all the information a manager needs is at their fingertips.”
“We had one case where our Clinical Services Manager was trying to put together a business case and was having to go to one place to get financials, then to HR to get the personnel information, and then looking at some other report to find information on service delivery,” says Kirkup.
“Its just common sense that if that business case gets done better, then patient outcomes will be better. Patients also benefit because managers are able to spend more time improving service effectiveness instead of struggling with incompatible systems.”
Early benefits from the introduction of ‘Fingertips’ are already in evidence, with accurate and up-to-date forecast information available on a more regular schedule. This allows the DHB to take a proactive approach to planning and individual managers can ensure that the over-runs are mitigated early, using the now integrated financial reporting system.
“The big payoff will come once the personnel data goes live early in 2010. Right now reports are delivered ad hoc, in hardcopy. With personnel being such an important part of the Health Board’s business, the SharePoint portal will be of huge benefit to us,” says Kirkup.
“For example, historically our overtime costs have been running at $700k per annum and we have set the organisation a stretch target of reducing this by 40 percent. This can only be monitored and managed by the accurate and timely analysis the personnel information will provide us.”
Wairarapa DHB now has a scalable platform for the future – a solution that can meet their current needs and adapt with business changes.
The hard work put in by the IT department using Microsoft technologies is resulting in streamlined processes. Staff can spend more time focusing on patients’ needs thanks to improved access to information. Managers focused on improving overall performance find using the new system means getting information is simpler and clearer.
Overall, the consolidation of information through implementation of Microsoft business Server solutions is allowing Wairarapa DHB to increase staff productivity and managers to focus on and make more informed decisions around performance improvement.
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