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Lancashire NHS Trust deploys Yellowfin mobile BI to enhance care

NHS Trust is using a mobile business intelligence system from Yellowfin to improve clinician performance and patient healthcare

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Lancashire Care NHS Trust has implemented a mobile business intelligence (BI) system from Yellowfin to improve clinician performance and the quality of patient healthcare, mostly in the mental health and community care fields.

The trust chose Yellowfin over other mobile BI products, and is looking to deploy the technology beyond mobile.

Mark Singleton, business intelligence manager at the Lancashire Care Trust, says its community services staff previously worked remotely via a paper-based diary system of record keeping, but are now able to access personalised patient and performance data directly from their tablet devices in real time.

The trust is the largest provider of mental health and community care services in Lancashire, and one of the biggest in England. It is using Yellowfin’s mobile BI software to deliver reporting and analytics to 6,000 field-based clinicians.

"When evaluating different mobile BI solutions on the market, I often found that each product would have its own strengths, but would come with equal weaknesses," says Singleton. 

"Yellowfin was different – no matter how hard I challenged and pushed the product, it always delivered. For example, one of the features we like in Microsoft is ‘decomposition tree’ in PerformancePoint. This enables a user to slice and dice data. But the Yellowfin dashboard could do that too,” he says.

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Declan Hadley, director of health informatics at the Trust, says: “In the broadest sense, we want to provide the highest quality healthcare we can, safe systems and a culture of using data to deliver that. We want clinicians to understand the services they are delivering – and business intelligence is part of that.”

Singleton adds: “Until now, they have perceived data going into a black hole. With this we can show them charts and interactive dashboards so they can understand what their caseloads are made up of. That gives them information back, and they can see why it is important to keep up it up to date.”

Staff can also build up a fuller picture, capturing not just how many patients they have seen or diagnostic information, "but also what the patients felt – patient reported outcomes", he says.

Choosing Yellowfin

Explaining the trust's technology choice, Singleton says: “We short-listed Yellowfin because we were looking for a technology that enables field-based clinicians to access data when out and about.”

The Lancashire Care NHS Trust has community-based staff, mainly nurses and staff working with young adults, using Android devices – 350 of which are Galaxy tablets. Yellowfin, it decided, was a good technology for rendering on that platform, and plans to have 900 of those deployed by the end of 2013.

That the technology can scale up inexpensively was also a big plus point for the trust, since it wanted as many of its 7,000 staff as possible using it. “We didn’t want to deploy a system that was good for 50 people, but then costly to scale up,” says Singleton.

It also looked at a MicroStrategy suite and Apple-based Roambi, he says, but found Roambi was “not great at flowing from one report to another”.

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Lancashire was one of the first NHS organisations to have an enterprise agreement with Microsoft, but it has found Yellowfin a better tool for the mobile BI job staff need to do, especially with their Android devices.

The trust’s developers had become comfortable with Microsoft products, but soon came to realise it was easier to compile BI reports using Yellowfin, says Singleton.

“Previously, I found the development team creating similar reports with very slight variations. Eliminating this unnecessary duplication of efforts, and improving reporting efficiencies, is going to be essential,” he says.

Although Lancashire Care originally looked at Yellowfin for its mobile BI features, it has found the technology to be more generally useful.

“What started as a mobile BI evaluation soon got me rethinking our desktop strategy,” says Singleton. “We’re now moving our existing desktop reporting over to Yellowfin. Like Gartner, I can see this emerging technology going far in the market, and that’s why we’ve decided to back it early.”

Declan Hadley, director of health informatics, says: “Increasingly, we have clinicians working in an agile way, so the desktop is less prominent. In two years’ time it might not be Android. I’m not so bothered about what the underlying system is.”

Yellowfin is set to be the main presentation layer for the trust’s data. It uses Microsoft SQL Server 2012, an in-house developed data warehouse on top of that, and a suite of online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes.

Using Yellowfin, the trust has also developed a balanced scorecard – pulling together clinical, financial, human resources and quality control information – to provide the trust’s executives, management and board of directors a comprehensive picture of current performance.

In the future, it might look to use the technology to bring in external data sources, such as social media or weather data, to better serve patients, such as those with chest problems, says Hadley. 

“Healthcare is not as mature as supermarkets in using weather data, but it is that sort of thing,” he says.

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