About five years ago, on one of my business trips to Europe, I had an opportunity to visit Oslo University Hospital in Norway. At that time, the hospital was nearing completion of an entirely new building. The doors to the new hospital were already open, and patients were beginning to flood various outpatient clinics while inpatient rooms were undergoing final preparations. The new hospital was then, and is today, the largest in Scandinavia with international roles in patient treatment, clinical research, and medical education. The system employs a staff of 20,000 people.
Today some of the “newness” of the hospital building may have faded, but that hasn’t stopped the innovation at Oslo University Hospital. One of the recent breakthroughs is the way clinicians, researchers and other staff are using business intelligence and analytics tools to improve care, speed discoveries, and gain deeper insights to clinical best practices.
Prior to the availability of these new tools, analytic projects at Oslo University Hospital plodded along just as they do in most hospitals today. In fact, little had actually changed since the days I was the CIO/CMIO of a community hospital in Bellevue, Washington. Analytics was something done by a select team of experts who usually resided in the IT department. Only these “data geeks” could get under the covers of our core clinical and business systems, extract data and write reports. Once a clinic manager got to the head of the line and ordered a report, it would take weeks, sometime months, to get the results. By then, the data was old and the findings couldn’t be trusted.
Fast forward to what is going on at Oslo University Hospital today. Armed with cloud-based Power BI tools in Microsoft Office 365 including Power Query for Excel to find and access data; PowerPivot for Excel to create data models for analysis; PowerView for Excel to produce highly visual reports; and PowerMap for Excel to integrate data with 3-D, geo-special maps; analytics is no longer a capability only for experts in IT. Business Intelligence is now a self-service solution for anyone who needs faster, fuller insights to clinical or business operations. Hospital executives, researchers and staff report they are able to speed analyses to delivery actionable information. They are able to collaborate better with teams beyond the enterprise. They are also avoiding the capital and operating costs of traditional BI solutions. Furthermore, while it previously took the hospital months to collect and analyze data from some department such as radiology, Power BI is doing the job in just a few hours. Findings published in PowerView are being presented to executives and researchers the very next morning.
Because Office 365 and the associated Power BI tools are hosted in the cloud, there is another very practical benefit to Oslo University Hospital—lower costs. Not only do researchers not have to wait for reports or be dependent on IT staff, the hospital doesn’t need to invest in hardware systems and software licensing and maintenance. Perhaps Dr. Eli Marie Sager, CEO, The Clinic for Diagnostics and Intervention at Oslo University Hospital, summarizes it best when she said, “This is a dream. With Power BI, we can understand what is happening in the departments in a few hours, rather than after months.”
(Power BI graphics used above are generic health industry examples and not from Oslo University Hospital data)
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft