THE PROBLEM IN DEPTH
St. Joseph Medical Center is a large, regional healthcare facility that caters to hundreds of patients every day. In order to handle and help so many people, the hospital utilizes the talents of thousands of physicians, specialists, and nurses in more than 35 departments. At such a large capacity, most of the departments in SHMC require a system for processing and filtering reports and information efficiently. According to Breitenbach, some departments were having trouble with efficiency in their then-current systems, particularly in areas such as payroll.
When the time came for departments to prepare payroll, they would attempt to garner information from time clocks and recent reports. For some departments, however, this process cost a lot of valuable time. "Managers were spending up to 20 minutes filtering through reports and tweaking productivity," says Breitenbach. When the readjustments were complete, managers would then have to print the information, collect it from the printer, and leave it for the responsible parties to review. The risks of these printouts being lost or forgotten made the current system seem impractical and time-consuming, and managers sought a better solution.
Putting time management issues aside, other groups were looking for concise methods to perform new projects. For example, the diabetes management team sought newer and faster ways to monitor the blood-sugar levels of postsurgical patients. The team hoped to find a way to sift through reports quickly, monitor patients in real time, and come up with a way to rapidly document and share the information with each other. Systems in place at the hospital made communication difficult and didn’t allow for real-time evaluations. The disconnect between doctors receiving printed reports proved again to be an issue, and the group turned to Breitenbach and the IT department to find a better way.
Breitenbach worked with Datawatch to help craft the solutions that SJMC was looking for. Already an avid Monarch user, Breitenbach suggested that the hospital try using the new Monarch BI Server, a program that can benefit both small and mid-size businesses as well as departments such as those at SJMC.
Monarch BI Server can be viewed as the middle step between two other Datawatch products: the personal-use Monarch Report Mining Server and the large-scale Datawatch ES. According to Datawatch SVP and CMO John Kitchen, the market demanded a solution such as Monarch BI Server. "Small to mid-size businesses have just as much a need for BI solutions as large businesses," he says. "Monarch BI Server is a smaller product for more pragmatic solutions."
Monarch BI Server highlights ease of use—businesses and departments don’t need IT experts in order to install and begin using the program. As Kitchen puts it, "Business owners should be spending time making the right decisions, not learning new technology." Advertised as being "programming-free" and an "out-of-the-box solution," Breitenbach used this simplicity to his advantage. He says that Monarch BI took the work out of his hands and put it into the hands of the end users: "Once I explained it, it only took a minute or so for new users to pick it up—it’s very easy and intuitive to use."
Another objective when creating Monarch BI was to build something the company didn’t see in the existing BI marketplace—something that could take old reports and leverage the information in them into live, actionable data. "We wanted the time and effort that was put into making those reports to be utilized," says Kitchen. Rather than throwing away old reports and creating a new database from scratch, Monarch BI can take data from any existing computer-generated, structured business document (including old reports) and transform it into live, customizable data that is not only easily accessible to users but also easily charted and filtered.
Filtering reports and data is a key feature of Monarch BI Server; users can start with preprogrammed filters or create their own to suit their needs. Several filters can be used at once, making the search process as complex or as simple as desired. Monarch can be set up to automatically archive reports on a daily basis, so that users always have the most recent information at their fingertips.
One of Breitenbach’s favorite features is what happens when you find the information you’re looking for. Before Monarch, people at SJMC would have to print out reports or email spreadsheets from one computer to another. With Monarch BI Server, once users locate the information they want, a single click will transform the information into an Excel spreadsheet or an HTML document. "The ability to open a search, get the information you needed, transfer it into an Excel spreadsheet and log off has really helped efficiency," says Breitenbach, "not to mention portability. Some workstations don’t have Excel on them, but the information is still just as accessible using an HTML document."
The accessibility, simplicity, and the ability to maintain both old and current reports are what made Monarch BI Server the right choice for SJMC. Breitenbach has always found Monarch to be a hugely useful product, and with BI Server, he can extend that usefulness to end users in a fast and convenient way. Now that Monarch is so widely used at SJMC, Breitenbach admits that when confronted with a new project, "The first thing I think of is, ‘Wait—Can I do this in Monarch?’"
Both the payroll project and the diabetes management team began using Monarch BI Server with overwhelming enthusiasm. Using Monarch BI for restructuring the payroll process is what first introduced Monarch to many of the managers in the facility, and it became widely popular. "After using Monarch, payroll hit a point where it was a snapshot," explains Breitenbach. "But it was a victim of its own success. Too many people began wanting access, and wanting to do more."
The diabetes management team, however, used Monarch BI Server with excellent results. Without wasting time sifting through numerous reports that may or may not be up-to-date, end users can now monitor the most recent blood-sugar levels, pull up a chart comparing them to past levels, and concisely filter all remaining reports. It is the most efficient way that the team can monitor patients, and the study is benefiting enormously by it. Physicians can review the reports at their desks using Excel and, after saving results and programming filters, walk to a workstation and view the same results as an HTML document. The miscommunications from the past are gone, and now in their place are understanding and efficiency.
The hospital also uses Monarch for several other projects and intends on using it for more in the future. The popularity of the product with users has Breitenbach looking for new and different ways to use Monarch BI Server throughout SJMC. He knows that the end users are astonished at what they can do and is happy to say, "There was no way I could do before what I can do now, since I started using Monarch."