Emergency Medical Associates to track swine flu movement with SAP business intelligence solutions

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As families return from summer travels and children head back to school, Emergency Medical Associates (EMA) is preparing for a potential resurgence in the swine flu virus (H1N1) this fall. By using business intelligence (BI) solutions from SAP AG (NYSE: SAP), EMA will continue to pinpoint the movement of swine flu and alert federal organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as 21 different emergency medical departments to patterns of outbreak. In turn, hospitals will be able to staff according to swine flu trends and accommodate upticks in patient visits.

EMA -- which provides emergency services to hospitals and health systems in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania -- originally selected data-visualization dashboards provided by Xcelsius(R) software to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) related to its patients. During the swine flu outbreak in April 2009, the organization saw the potential for tracking influenza infection patterns among its emergency rooms, honing in on information such as the number of visits for the month versus past months; patient-walkout percentages; time of walk-in compared to time of admittance; and how long it took to treat and release or treat and admit a patient. Physicians, who are administrative directors in EMA's network of contracted emergency departments, had online access to this information in real time with reporting and analysis software from the SAP(R) BusinessObjects(TM) portfolio, and used the data to respond quickly to changing public health conditions.

"By drilling down into specific syndromes in our patient reports, we can pinpoint spikes in fever and flu-like symptoms that are swine flu indicators," said Jonathan Rothman, director of Data Management, Emergency Medical Associates. "Then we compare it with our large archive of historical information to figure out where we stand. When statistics for a particular symptom exceed standard deviation, we know we've got a problem on our hands. From there, we do our due diligence to notify local, state and federal organizations like the CDC about swine flu growth patterns and any geographic spreading of the virus we're able to forecast, so that they can help inform the public. SAP BusinessObjects BI solutions enable us to do all of this quickly, and it's helped us save lives. By having the right amount of medical resources available to patients in the most urgent times, we can provide proper treatment and help mitigate the spreading of the virus."

To determine where medical resources are needed most, EMA uses SAP BusinessObjects BI solutions to collect data from 1.2 million patients annually. With detailed diagnosis information pulled from 1,300 monthly reports, EMA is able to set specific targets and alarm notifications for when swine flu-related symptom data exceeds standard-deviation thresholds. The result is that EMA can take action by alerting local hospitals and federal organizations to their discoveries, so that they can use the information to prepare for outbreaks.

With increased access to more reliable information, EMA has been able to measure and analyze physician performance, determine the best way to allocate resources in times of crisis and reduce the number of patients who leave emergency rooms before receiving care -- critical issues when diseases like swine flu are spreading. Thanks to SAP BusinessObjects BI solutions, patients in the EMA network move more quickly into treatment rooms, wait less time to see doctors and spend less time in emergency rooms overall. This has helped increase the number of patients seen per physician per hour and reduce the per-visit cost for patients.

SAP software helps save EMA time by bringing together information from several disparate systems so that end users can make sense of clinical data, operational data, financial data and satisfaction data. Since EMA's end users include physicians, nurses and researchers, the organization needed software that could give people access to information in formats they were accustomed to working with, regardless of their technical skill level. Today, EMA's 27 dashboards and 30 daily on-demand reports are at end users' fingertips via an intuitive interface that resembles commonly used spreadsheets.

"As the Obama administration places a larger emphasis on applying technology to healthcare, organizations like EMA are leading the way by demonstrating how business intelligence software can help change and save lives," said Marge Breya, executive vice president and general manager, Intelligence Platform Group and SAP NetWeaver Solution Management, SAP AG. "With up-to-the-minute insight into swine flu symptoms, EMA can help gauge if and when another outbreak might occur. By sharing this data with its own network and beyond, hospitals and government agencies can all benefit from the valuable information by changing staffing and response plans, which helps to increase quality of care while reducing costs."



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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