With QlikView, he can browse without knowing exactly what he’s hoping to find; when he does need to track down a particular fact, he doesn’t need to build a report because the information is available instantly. “You can now see patterns of information that you couldn’t see before,” he says. Now, he adds, the question becomes “How do we use it to provide better care and more effective care?”
ThedaCare is pursuing many answers to that question. In the oncology department, QlikView provides a snapshot of where each patient is in the cycle of diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. The department is particularly focused on making sure there aren’t unnecessary delays between steps in that cycle; QlikView makes it possible to identify missed goals immediately and start uncovering the reasons for the problem.
ThedaCare is using QlikView to investigate outliers of all sorts. For example, the health-care industry as a whole has guidelines describing how long patients should stay in the hospital following certain procedures. When a patient stays longer, the hospital may have to eat the cost. QlikView makes it easier to spot an extra-long hospital stay and figure out what went wrong. Was the treatment itself the cause? Would a nurse with different skills have made a difference? Was there a glitch in the discharge process?
Labor is ThedaCare’s single biggest cost, accounting for 50 to 60 percent of expenses. The company is using QlikView to predict, on the basis of past patterns, when patient volume will be heaviest in certain departments or locations and then staff accordingly. For example, a surgeon’s busy schedule one day could send ripples through the system in the days that follow. And patients might regularly flood one of ThedaCare’s radiology departments on certain days while another location might be empty. Veara says the company wouldn’t have been able to spot such patterns before, but now it can move staff between neighboring hospitals instead of paying overtime at one place and cutting back employees’ hours at another.
Veara declined to say how much the company spent on the software, but he says it paid for itself in the first year. This year, he expects QlikView to help the company cut overtime pay by $750,000. It is also expected to save about $400,000 by making employees more productive while they work.