The North Tees and Hartlepool National Health Services Foundation Trust thought it had an appropriate analysis tool for use with its Ascribe clinical intelligence software—until it saw what it could do with Microsoft Power BI for Office 365.
Now it can easily incorporate external data sets into its analyses, deliver more intuitive and persuasive reports, and reduce costs—all with the goal of improving clinical outcomes and efficiency.
Professor Philip Dean didn’t know what he was missing.
Prof. Dean is Head of the Department of Pharmacy and Quality Control Laboratory Services at the North Tees and Hartlepool National Health Services Trust in the United Kingdom, which provides hospital-based and community-based healthcare services and screenings
to a population of about 400,000. Prof. Dean needed to make sense of an ever-increasing amount of information: The clinical use of drugs had to be tracked, of course, as did the costs associated with them. But Prof. Dean also sought data on the efficacy of
treatment and shared this information with clinical and financial staff at North Tees.
The information that Prof. Dean used was maintained in an on-premises Ascribe clinical intelligence system. The analyses of that data were created with Crystal Reports software, which Prof. Dean had been using for years and was happy with.
As he now says, he didn’t know what he was missing. For example, it hadn’t occurred to him that he should have been able to include external data sets in his analyses. Such data sets would have been useful to complement and help explain internal trends,
as well as to provide benchmarks for comparison with those trends. Nor did Prof. Dean realize he might have been able to explore his data in highly flexible ways in real time and to use visualization tools that made insights more intuitive and persuasive.
When Ascribe proposed a new BI system for its solution, the discussion quickly came to touch on these possibilities. Prof. Dean had long wanted to advance the use of analytics to drive changes in clinical behavior. Perhaps a new analysis solution could help
accomplish this goal.
Ascribe—a Microsoft partner with gold competencies in business intelligence—had an interesting proposition for Prof. Dean, North Tees, and its Department of Pharmacy: Would they like to become a test site for an entirely new, self-service, BI toolset for
use with Ascribe data? That toolset was Microsoft Power BI for Office 365. It’s part of the Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based, business productivity suite and works through familiar Excel spreadsheet software.
Power BI includes four key tools:
Power Query to find and access data
Power Pivot to create data models for analysis
Power View to produce highly visual reports
Power Map to integrate data with 3-D geospatial maps
Prof. Dean accepted Ascribe’s offer, and the company went to work. Developers took an extract of North Tees data and imported it into a Power Pivot model hosted in the Office 365 cloud. They built the model in a day, compared to the five days it would have
taken without Power BI.
Using Power Query, they identified other data sets of interest to Prof. Dean and his colleagues, such as publicly available data on the activity of general practitioners, and integrated that data into the Power Pivot model. In production, Prof. Dean and
his colleagues would likely use Power Query directly to identify and access third-party data of interest to them.
Prof. Dean used Power BI through an Ascribe application for Windows 8, running on a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet, which made it possible for him to work with the data without having to be at his desktop PC. He correlated independent weather data with his
institution’s own data to identify the impact of inclement weather on the frequency of respiratory disease, and further integrated treatment data to understand which drugs were being prescribed and how prescription patterns varied by locality.
He visualized the results using Power View and Power Map. With Power View, he created several graphs and clustered them on a single screen for simultaneous viewing, compared to the single graph per screen that he often found difficult to create previously.
With Power Map, he visualized data on district maps and zoomed in and around the data to gain various levels of insight.
Prof. Dean is now collaborating with other hospitals in the north of England, with the intent to compare the institutions’ data through Power BI to identify best practices at each institution that they can share.
||Linking data for analyses was something we couldn’t do before. With Power BI, it’s simple. Power BI makes the hard things easy. Everything becomes possible.
| Professor Philip Dean
Head of Department of Pharmacy and Quality Control Laboratory Services,
North Tees and Hartlepool National Health Services Trust
Prof. Dean now knows what he was missing with his previous analysis software. He sees Power BI and Ascribe making it possible for North Tees and its Department of Pharmacy to undertake virtually unlimited analyses with great visual impact, immediacy, and
Links Data for Integrated Analyses
Prof. Dean says that the ability to link disparate data sets for an integrated analysis was “one of the ‘wow’ things” that impressed him most in his use of Power BI. “Linking data for analyses was something we couldn’t do before,” he says. “With Power BI,
it’s simple. Power BI makes the hard things easy. Everything becomes possible.”
Prof. Dean becomes increasingly enthusiastic as he talks about the possibilities he envisions. “With Microsoft Power BI and Ascribe, we could understand which bacteria are resistant to which antibiotics in various areas at various times,” he suggests. “We
could understand how socio-economic status affects the health of, and medicines used by, our population. There’s virtually nothing we can’t understand better with this technology.”
Delivers Immediate, Visual Impact to Spur Change
Prof. Dean wants North Tees to gain these deeper insights not for their own sake, but to improve both clinical outcomes and efficiency. That requires changes in the behaviors and choices of clinical staff—and Prof. Dean says that Power BI will help motivate
staff to make those changes.
“Power BI is far more visual than the tools we’ve been using and has more impact,” he says. “The analyses are instantly understandable. When clinicians see at a glance who’s spending twice as much and getting half the results, that’s far more powerful than
any dry table of figures.”
Prof. Dean also points to the Ascribe app, which he can use to publicize and distribute analyses via social media rather than email. “The greater immediacy of social media multiplies the impact,” he says. “And the fact that it’s a Windows 8 app running on
a tablet means clinicians can use it when and where they need to in clinical settings.”
Prof. Dean didn’t explore the use of Ascribe with Power BI for cost avoidance—but that’s another key benefit he now sees. “My department doesn’t have a large technology budget, and we couldn’t afford a solution that required us to buy and maintain hardware
and software,” he says. “With Power BI and Ascribe, we don’t need to. We subscribe to just what we need. It’s a highly affordable solution.”
This case study is for informational purposes only.