athens regional health system

Five Ways Small BI Projects Can Make a Big Difference

Quick Facts
Organization: Athens Regional Health System [Now Piedmont Athens Regional]
Dimensional Insight Customer Since: 2009
Location: Athens, Georgia
Company Description: Athens Regional Health System is a 350-bed regional referral hospital in northeast Georgia, covering 17 counties. It is a Level II trauma center, a Level III neonatal intensive care unit, and it has four urgent care centers as well as a physicians’ practice group.

Website:
https://www.piedmont.org
Solution: Diver Platform

Athens Regional Health System, located about 70 miles east of Atlanta, is an award-winning hospital and was named one of Healthgrades’ “America’s 100 Best Hospitals” in 2016. Athens Regional has been using Diver Platform (Diver) since 2009 in multiple ways throughout the hospital. Robin France, senior data analyst at Athens Regional, is the primary Diver developer at the hospital; she is continually looking for new ways to use Diver to enable better decision-making. Here she highlights five ways in particular that small Diver projects at Athens Regional have made a big difference.

1. Readmissions vs. Returns

Athens Regional wanted to gain a better understanding of emergency department readmissions – those people who came through the emergency department and then returned to the hospital within 48 hours as an inpatient. They had once been able to track this data, but no longer could.

Athens Regional’s readmissions data was limited to only people who were admitted as inpatients. In order to get the results that the emergency department wanted, France took the readmission report the hospital produced in Diver and changed the definitions so she could get the right numbers. “We can make any definition we want in Diver,” says France. “That’s how flexible it is.”

France was also proactive, knowing that once the emergency department was able to better track patients coming through, the next question would be: when does the observation patient come back and get readmitted? So she expanded definitions with that in mind, not only giving the emergency department what it wanted, but also saving time for the Quality and Performance Improvement staff, who had been trying to figure out a solution to this problem using spreadsheets.

2. Chest Pain Unit Metrics

Athens Regional Health System was accredited as a chest pain center in 2013, and when the chest pain unit wanted to reach the next level of accreditation with the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC), the hospital used Diver to help get there.

The chest pain unit needed to take steps to define exactly what they meant by a low risk acute coronary syndrome patient, provide a file to submit data to the SCPC once a month, and create a dashboard to show that the unit was looking at trends in care and that they were following certain guidelines. The problem the unit faced was that the data it needed was kept in three different systems, one of which included a free-text field with no consistent way of presenting the information it
needed to search.

France says, “Diver was the only solution that could join all of this data correctly and produce the upload file we needed as well as the metrics.” With Diver’s help, the chest pain unit was not only able to rise to the top tier of accreditation without hours of manual data entry, but also able to analyze the trends in its low-risk acute coronary syndrome patients and cut the length of stay in half for the observation patients.

3. Lab Turnaround Times

Athens Regional wanted to decrease the amount of time required for the lab to produce troponin test turnaround time reports. The troponin test helps to diagnose cardiac issues in patients so managing this particular test’s turnaround time is critical. The existing process involved running a report from the lab information system and putting it in Excel, which was time-consuming. Using ProDiver, the data was delivered more quickly. It also allowed the hospital to not only look at which units got their results back quickest, but also to identify which units took the longest and investigate the reasons why.

4. Quick and Easy File Creation

France says she frequently uses the file creation aspect of Diver, and cites as one example how the materials department at the hospital wanted a freight report. The goal was to capture all of the freight associated with the hospital’s purchase orders and to create a file to send to an outsourcing vendor.

France used Integrator, Dimensional Insight’s ETL tool, to find the records to include in the file, and then used a trace object to send the files off. “You get to choose the columns, the format, a location to store the file,” France says. “It’s easy, it’s efficient, and it saves me headaches. Being able to do all the files in one script rather than create several scripts is just more efficient.”

5. Workload Graphs

The hospital used Diver to help figure out how to reduce labor expense, particularly in the lab. The lab wanted to know if they could adjust shifts, moving people around to match the workload. The hospital had no process in place to look at this data, so someone suggested talking to Dimensional Insight to find a solution.

Using ProDiver, the hospital looked at lab samples arriving at a work area to determine how much work was being done in different parts of the lab, and when the work was being done. Armed with this information, the hospital was able to produce graphics showing peak work times and structure the lab schedule to accommodate that.

What’s Next?

Athens Regional Health System is planning to next use Diver to help analyze patient flow, trying to figure out where the patient is in the hospital and when, how long it took from when the hospital said it would admit the patient to when they actually are in a bed, and how long from the discharge order until the actual discharge.

Anticipating the next steps, France says she will use all data she can gather to proactively address the questions that haven’t been asked yet. She has also been bringing in other people to work with Diver. “I’m trying to train some other people into it because we do have momentum going right now and people do think that Diver is a great tool and they see its value,” France says. “So I will grab quality people and say, ‘Look what you could do with Diver.’”