Business Intelligence

This is the first of a three-part series on Business Intelligence in the lab. Stay tuned to colLABoration for the rest of the series.

What is BI? Why do we need it?

With increasing challenges in healthcare, there is more need to stay ahead of the competition than ever before. Business intelligence (BI) is an important tool that can be used in the strategic planning process of an organization by taking data and converting it into useable knowledge—knowledge that can then be used to drive future business decisions. By using BI to tap into the data and deliver insight to employees and managers, organizations can increase revenue, reduce costs, reallocate resources, and improve operational efficiency.  Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) has been a way of life for labs that have tried for years to keep costs at a minimum, yet provide accurate and timely diagnostic results.

How We Use BI

Because the goal of BI is to support better business decisions, it has also been referred to as a decision support system. BI information can be used to demonstrate historical, current, and predictive views, which can lead to the development of new opportunities. Functions of BI include analytics, data mining, process mining, performance management, benchmarking, and predictive analysis. For example, the measurement of performance metrics and benchmarking can be used to assess progress toward specific goals; whereas analytics, such as data mining, statistical analysis, and predictive modeling, are the processes used to arrive at “best decisions.”

The Value BI Brings

In order to provide value, businesses need actionable information quickly. Most of us do not have the time to look through reams of data for the valuable pieces; we need access to the data, along with the ability to combine, aggregate, and integrate the information. We need BI tools that can provide a pro-active approach such as an alarm function to alert end-users, a specific color change of a particular parameter, or an email or pop-up alert.

The most competitive labs use LEAN and Six Sigma to maximize efficiency. In these environments, laboratories can define their unique key business metrics and then utilize Orchard’s data mining and BI capabilities. In addition, all of the data in Orchard’s systems is structured to enable tracking of useful key performance indicators that bring added knowledge to your facility and can aid in future business decisions.

Using BI analytics, you can make informed, data-driven decisions that will help you better manage financial risks and incentives. For example, you can monitor individual physician ordering and testing patterns to identify levels of inappropriate variation in both quality and utilization. This data can be used to create best decision pathways of care to reduce unnecessary or redundant laboratory testing and reduce costs.

Kim Futrell
Products Marketing Manager
Orchard Software Corporation