Auckland DHB aims to cut waste

Auckland District Health Board will be better able to tell where it might improve its cost efficiencies once it finishes implementing a new costing system and a data warehouse upgrade in a few months.

Auckland District Health Board will be better able to tell where it might improve its cost efficiencies once it finishes implementing a new costing system and a data warehouse upgrade in a few months.

The DHB is aiming to go live with a "power cost management" offering from Australian vendor Power Solutions by September, says Julie Harris, the board's decision support manager.

The package, used in concert with an updated SQL Server warehouse, will be particularly useful in tracking the costs of treating patients outside the Auckland region. Auckland treats a lot of tertiary patients - those not in the DHB's catchment area who come for specialist, complex treatment, Harris says. "Forty-five percent of patients aren't resident in the DHB region."

She says power cost management is specifically designed for the health sector and looks at direct costs. When it is integrated with the warehouse, all patient activities can be tracked.

"If someone has had radiology, and been in this or that ward, we'll be able to factor it and [find out] the comprehensive costs for each patient. We'll be able to compare costs and find areas where we're inefficient."

Wellington's Capital and Coast DHB and the Canterbury DHB have also bought the cost management package and plan to implement it six months behind Auckland.

Harris says it was selected as the costing package for Auckland DHB because "it did what we wanted, providing costs at patient level and it worked with SQL Server, which our data warehouse runs on".

The company had no reference sites in New Zealand for the package, but implementations in Australia served as such, Harris says.

The early stages of Auckland DHB's implementation have seen the usual hiccups that occur when a big system is installed, she says.

"Some things were defined the Australian way and it was on Australian time, but that's been fixed."

An analytics team is also to be appointed and the members, who will be clinicians with analytical skills, "will have database and data warehouse statistics at their fingertips".

The DHB plans to install Business Objects analytical software on top of the data warehouse and will continue to use Crystal Reports "for a while".

Crystal Reports is in use on transactional systems and is used in a limited capacity in the data warehouse. No decision has been made on its future use in light of Business Objects' acquisition of Crystal Decisions, Harris says.

The upgrade of the data warehouse will "make it easier to access information" and the warehouse will be configured so that more core DHB data systems can be tapped.

"The hospital does a lot of departmental transactions and we want that information in the data warehouse for analysis."

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