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CASE STUDY - Hartford Hospital Simplifies Access to Enterprise Information

Commentary by Jack Alberti, Director of IT Special Projects, Hartford Hospital

Hartford Hospital has deployed Progress EasyAsk to support operational business intelligence (BI). EasyAsk for Operational BI provides natural language ad hoc query and search capabilities that empower information users at Hartford Hospital to quickly find and retrieve critical information from multiple enterprise data sources.

“Prior to implementing EasyAsk, the IT department spent hours each day on behalf of our users simply pulling data from disparate systems,” said Jack Alberti, director of IT Special Projects for Hartford Hospital.

EasyAsk’s natural-language query enables access to data and content across more than 225 data formats. Its industry-specific dictionaries enable users to ask plain-language business questions of their applications and information stores. These dictionaries are continuously refined with the everyday language of departmental business users.

Helps with Payroll/Personnel Administration

The first deployments were for the hospital’s payroll and personnel departments. Alberti explained, “From having only a handful of users with the technical knowledge to query the mainframe database, we suddenly had dozens of users who could access payroll data. They could suddenly ask plain-English questions such as ‘how much vacation time was accrued in a particular department’ or ‘on what date did a particular employee begin working for purposes of employment verification’ to easily access the information they need to make informed decisions.” EasyAsk now allows more than 50 users within the payroll/personnel department to pull data for virtually any kind of use instantly, reducing departmental reporting requirements.

Alerts Staff of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs)

After learning that the infection control staff members were spending 60 to 90 minutes each day manually searching through files for hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), the hospital started customizing EasyAsk’s query tool. By migrating separate databases and creating a dictionary within EasyAsk that explains the relational structure of the database to the query tool, the infection control staff was able to quickly determine the types of HAIs and related patient information they needed. Instead of having a hospital worker manually mine stacks of paper, EasyAsk automatically generates a report, saving 5 to 10 hours per week.

Once [users] realize how easily they can access operational business intelligence, they become experts on using EasyAsk. —Jack Alberti, Hartford Hospital
Leverages Data to Help Manage the ER More Efficiently

Analysts regularly leverage EasyAsk to extract data from multiple applications used by emergency room personnel. “We analyze utilization data to identify patterns in emergency room care so we can staff appropriately and project staffing, equipment, and inventory requirements for the future,” said Alberti. “We also look at patterns to identify public health concerns that should be investigated further. For example, if we see an above-average influx of upper respiratory patients, clinicians can drill down to correlate patient information and more quickly identify the root cause.”

Provides Analysis Used to Improve Patient Care

The hospital runs regular queries to identify standard metrics for analysis, such as average waiting time for emergency room services. Easy access to complex information helps the organization optimize productivity and improve patient care. “Analysts and clinicians can also analyze diagnosis patterns to detect patient care trends, and caregivers can search legacy data sources for historical patient care information,” stated Alberti.

Support for Remote Users and Locations

Hartford Hospital is a wholly owned acute care subsidiary of Hartford Healthcare Corporation, and authorized users at several affiliated institutions also leverage EasyAsk, including the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, the Midstate Medical Center, the Hartford Medical Group, and Connecticut Lab Partners. “These affiliated institutions have access to their own patient care and operational information,” said Alberti. Users from more than 20 departments now regularly rely on EasyAsk to analyze patient care and business operations.

As for end-user training, Alberti explained, “It’s about 40 minutes with me. It’s so easy; I show new users the basics and send them away to play with it. Once they realize how easily they can access operational business intelligence, they become experts on using EasyAsk.”

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