At Biomedical Systems, processing each of the 10,000 electrocardiograms (ECGs) it receives each month required at least one hour of labor, with average turnaround times of two days. The company used Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 to streamline
and automate ECG processing, which will lead to faster turnaround times, increased quality, reduced effort and costs, and a greater competitive advantage.
Founded in 1975, Biomedical Systems operates three lines of business: equipment and services to support clinical trials, outsourced cardiac testing, and clinical products and supplies. Within its clinical trials business, which includes several areas
of focus, the Cardiac Safety division alone supports some 200 active clinical trials for drug and medical device manufacturers at any given time, processing roughly 10,000 electrocardiograms (ECGs) per month.
||Our eStore solution, while transformational on its own, is merely a first step in standardizing on Microsoft software to help fuel and support business growth.
Executive Director, Software Development, Biomedical Systems
Previously, processing each ECG was time- and labor-intensive, involving five to six handoffs and a greater number of standalone systems. ECGs came in through one of four systems or on paper. In either case, a paper folder was created and used to drive the
rest of the process, which involved: manual data validation and screening for immediate medical issues using one system; review by a cardiac technician using another system; twice-daily deliveries of folders to local cardiologists; retrieval of cardiologists’
handwritten notes; transcription of the notes into another system; and independent review for transcription errors using yet another system.
Processing each ECG required at least one hour of labor, with average turnaround times of two days before the results were ready for a study’s sponsor. Supporting the process also placed a heavy burden on the company’s IT team, which spent 400 hours per
week supporting all the different systems and creating customized databases for each new trial.
“From a labor perspective, lack of an optimized solution prevented us from cost-effectively scaling our capacity,” says Mike Brown, Executive Director of Software Development at Biomedical Systems. “From a clinical perspective, it limited our ability to
meet the quality levels and turnaround times demanded by clients. IT resources couldn’t focus on other, more strategic initiatives. All of these issues restricted profitability and business growth in one way or another.”
To meet its needs, Biomedical Systems set out to build a single, integrated solution for ECG acquisition and processing. The company chose Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 running on the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system as the foundation for its
new solution and chose Process360 for SharePoint from OpenText for business process management on SharePoint Server. Biomedical Systems selected Microsoft Partner Network member Byrne Software Technologies to implement the solution using the Microsoft Visual
Studio 2010 Professional development system.
Called eStore, the company’s new solution took seven months to develop and test, and it is now in a formal validation phase. When put into production in July 2012, it will use data-driven workflows to dramatically reduce the time, effort, and potential for
error in processing and analyzing ECGs. It will also automate communication with clinical trial sites, cardiologists, and study sponsors, to further increase efficiencies and reduce turnaround times.
“ECGs that pass automated, upfront error checks will be made available to cardiologists via the web within minutes,” says Brown. “After the cardiologist evaluates an ECG, results will be ready for sponsors a few minutes later. Manual effort will be limited
to handling exceptions, which will leave clinical trial teams with more time to address the upstream causes of those errors. And because eStore is highly configurable, developer effort won’t be required for each new study.”
Biomedical Systems expects to realize several benefits from its new eStore solution, including:
Faster turnaround times and increased quality. Biomedical Systems will reduce average turnaround times by at least 50 percent. “We’ll be able to guarantee one-day turnaround times—half the industry average,” says Brown. “And if a significant
medical event occurs, we’ll be able to evaluate an ECG within 30 minutes. A single source of the truth will also help us increase data quality, better measure cardiologist variability, and improve on other key measures of customer satisfaction.”
Increased productivity. ECGs without data errors will be processed in minutes of manual effort, versus at least an hour. Given that roughly half of all ECGs that Biomedical Systems receives today fall into this category, the eStore solution
will result in a monthly labor savings of 4,500 hours—equivalent to $180,000 in monthly labor costs—that can be redirected elsewhere. Technical effort required to support the old method of processing will also be reduced, resulting in a weekly IT labor savings
of 240 hours by the time all legacy systems are retired.
Reduced costs. Storage and paper costs associated with the maintenance of physical folders will be eliminated, resulting in an annual savings of at least another $180,000 per year.
Increased competitive advantage. Documented, guaranteed turnaround times and improved clinical quality will help Biomedical Systems win new business. Just as important, the company can now cost-effectively scale to handle that business,
without a commensurate increase in labor costs.
Rapid, cost-effective development. Biomedical Systems was able to quickly and cost-effectively build eStore and begin benefiting from it. “Microsoft software gave us a comprehensive platform for all aspects of solution development,”
says Brown. “For a solution that will help us fundamentally transform the business, the costs were entirely reasonable. We expect to realize a full return on our investment in less than 24 months and an annual savings of about $2.4 million per year after all
work is transitioned to eStore.”
Although all the above benefits are significant on their own, Brown admits a larger motivation for choosing the technology path Biomedical Systems is on today. “When I joined the company in 2009, it was apparent that we needed a single, integrated technology
stack across the business,” he says. “We’ve since signed a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement and are using it to expand our rollout of SharePoint Server 2010 and other eStore solution components to other areas of the business. We’re also using it to deploy additional
products such as Microsoft Lync Server 2010 for unified communications and Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 for application lifecycle management. Our eStore solution, while transformational on its own, is merely a first step in standardizing
on Microsoft software to help fuel and support business growth.”
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