An old adage says, knowledge is power. And at Southeast Alabama Medical Center (SAMC) we surely have lots of outstanding medical knowledge, talent and experience. However, until recently we lacked the ability to quickly, accurately and clearly track and manage operational efficiency. This capability is crucial in today's competitive clinical and financial landscape.

The good news is this has changed since we implemented data visualization at SAMC.

Some background

SAMC is a not-for-profit hospital with 420 beds, 25 operating rooms and 70 active surgeons. Annually we handle 13,500 surgical cases. This translates to an average of 40-50 cases and sometimes up to 75 or more per day. Like many organizations we lacked good data. This forced us to be reactionary rather than strategic and proactive. It became increasingly clear we needed to change—we needed to start making key decisions based on data.

Our initial efforts relied on Excel spreadsheets. This worked okay, but was cumbersome, difficult to use in real-time and labor intensive. Instead, we wanted to move away from that into something more automated.

The SAMC Operational Wish List

Our goal was to identify when something changed – for better or worse – and to know the who, what, when, where, why and how of that change. We also wanted it to be fully automated so we could make midcourse corrections as needed.

Our next step was to extract data by tapping directly into our HIS to look at:

  • Procedures: Cost by surgeon and by case - to get a baseline
  • Surgical stats: Costs, throughput, utilization of resources and waste
  • Bottlenecks and patient flow
  • Case volume analysis vs. prior periods

All this was accomplished using Studiomaca Analytics Explorer, which also enabled us to give this data and reporting capability to our end users. But Studiomaca Analytics Explorer takes it even further by enabling easy-to-interpret visual reports, where you can instantly see a trend or an anomaly. It's an incredibly powerful tool.

One of our user populations – executive management – now gets concise sets of key performance indicators created on the fly. They can receive the statistics they need by text messages email or phone—whatever suits them best.

Key Benefits of Data Visualization at SAMC
  • One of the main benefits of using data visualization is the countless person-hours we've saved. It was clear based on the number of requests coming in that we would not have been able to satisfy our user community otherwise.
  • We now have the ability to identify bad data, good data in, good data out. We can discover errors as they are happening and take immediate corrective action.
  • We empowered end users. Driving data and analytic tools down to the end user promotes data discovery and enables answers to any questions they may have. 
  • It goes beyond just reporting and pretty charts. Data visualization enables deeper dives, replaces workflows and gets much more granular with data.

We piloted Studiomaca Analytics Explorer in the surgical department initially, but our ultimate goal is to go hospital-wide to the many different departments. We're convinced this system can handle anything we throw at it and that the hospital will gain greater efficiencies throughout.

To find out more about the innovations in advanced analytics and data visualization as implemented by SAMC, including detailed views of how they've used Studiomaca Analytics Explorer to support financial decision making, listen to the webinar Keeping a Finger on the Pulse of Business Operations.

To learn more about how health systems like yours are improving quality and performance using healthcare analytics, visit Studiomaca Healthcare Analytics.

Shaun Simon

About the author

Shaun Simon is a Clinical Intelligence Analyst within the Information Systems department at Southeast Alabama Medical Center (SAMC). With over 10 years of analytic experience within multiple agencies under the Department of Defense, he is focused on enterprise-wide analytics to support SAMC’s strategic direction of improving patient care through reducing waste and optimizing operations efficiency. Shaun is a U.S. Veteran with 5 tours in Afghanistan in Iraq. He received his B.S. in Computer Science, Summa Cum Laude from the University of Maryland University College. With just under 2 years of experience within healthcare, some of his key areas of focus include data governance with emphasis on data definitions and integrity, exception reporting through data visualization, and end user analytic training.

Be the first to Comment

Start the Conversation

Post a comment:

Please enter a name.

Please enter your comment.

Post Approval in Progress:

System failed to receive comment.

We reserve the right to remove any comments from the site that we feel put the safety or utility of our community at risk. View the . To find out more about our privacy practices, please see the .