Refining hospital processes with BI and analytics

Dr. Tullawat Pacharapha, Chief Operating Officer at Vejthani Hospital. Image courtesy of Vejthani Hospital.

More healthcare organisations are now using business intelligence (BI) tools to find out where they can get better, and enhance their patient care. If applied correctly, such tools provide useful insight, whether it’s operational data, financial information, patient feedback, and myriad other areas.

One institution that has implemented such a platform is Vejthani Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Their tool of choice is Qlik Sense Enterprise, which provides BI tools to complement the hospital’s existing systems.

We recently got in touch with Dr. Tullawat Pacharapha, Chief Operating Officer at Vejthani Hospital, to ask him about the Qlik’s BI tool, the steps they took to adopt data analytics, how the platform helped the hospital provide better care, and more.

What made the switch to Qlik necessary? Why did you choose Qlik’s offering over the other BI platforms available out there?

There are two imperatives for the medical sector in Thailand: One is accurate data collection, and the other is managing the volume of such information. Health institutions like Vejthani Hospital – which cater to more than 300,000 patients from over 100 countries yearly – are often inundated with data collected during diagnosis and treatment recommendations, as well as vital information on business and operations. Over the years, we have realised that having multiple sources of data can pose a challenge to our operations, especially when we want to analyse and gather valuable insights to inform our business decisions.

Before deploying Qlik, we used a generic digital record keeping system to gather data on manpower hours, patient details, transactions, and clinical data. It was useful in storing massive amounts of data, but the system could not provide any form of analysis or insights. Processing large amounts of information was also a slow and cumbersome operation for us, which resulted in delays in crucial decisions and reduced efficiency of our hospital operations.

Due to the challenges, we decided to invest in BI tools to complement our existing systems. We chose to work with Qlik, as the Qlik Sense Enterprise solution offers a powerful architecture that is easy to use. But the key differentiator for us was the service team.

Before coming on board with Qlik, we requested their service team to conduct a half-day training with our employees to answer any queries we had. Through the Qlik service team’s interaction and proactiveness, especially when discussing the objectives and delivering a test of concept within the required timeframe, we were confident that Qlik’s service team would help us achieve our goals in an easy and fuss-free manner.

How did the use of data analytics and Qlik’s BI platform impact Vejthani Hospital’s operations and processes? How does this benefit the hospital’s patients?

We applied Qlik’s BI capabilities to our hospital’s strategic business units in finance, customer service, and internal processes. The solutions allow our management to track the performance of these units by monitoring daily billings, accounting for patient figures, and charting revenue growth. Having details such as length of patient stay, arrivals at pharmacies, and patient discharge times allow the hospital to be well-informed and make swift business decisions.

Besides monitoring customer behaviour, we also use Qlik to track resource usage, ensuring that we operate efficiently. For example, running operating theatres is expensive and time-consuming, leading to wastage if not used properly. Qlik’s solutions offer insights such as punctuality, schedule changes, and manpower needs. With these data insights, we have seen a 20% improvement in the use of operating theatres, thus allowing us to serve our patients in a more efficient and timely manner, prioritising those who need it more urgently.

Overall, Qlik’s BI capabilities have provided us with an edge while complementing our existing business processes. Using Qlik’s solutions does not impinge on resources and the performance of our current systems as it performs data analysis overnight without affecting the general running of the hospital. As such, we can now view year-on-year data to make comparisons or analyse trends, allowing us to improve our product offerings and serve our patients better.

How did Qlik’s data analytics platform affect your staff’s workflows? Could you talk about your operations setup at Vejthani Hospital?

Having all the data in one place cuts wastage significantly, and Qlik Sense has provided us with a speedy and accurate compilation of data for a quicker decision-making process. Rather than having disparate reports in Excel from multiple sources, its aggregation function has helped our hospital operations save time in reviewing information. Past practices saw our management taking weeks to arrive at decisions or responses to cases or patient treatments.

With Qlik, we successfully cut down the old back-and-forth processes of discussions across departments, have fewer meetings, and minimised delays. By simply accessing the dashboard on mobile devices, we managed to come to a decision in one meeting. As a result, teams can track and improve turnarounds for patient discharge. 

What were the challenges you encountered in implementing Qlik’s BI platform at Vejthani Hospital? What about the difficulties you faced in adopting data analytics?

When we first started using Qlik, there were a few considerations that we needed to focus on to ensure that the journey to adopting data analytics was as smooth as possible without major challenges or difficulties for the organisation.

  • Firstly, we had to ensure that our staff members were using the software’s full functionality correctly.
  • Secondly, we required our operations team to work closely with the IT team to validate the data on the BI platform. Any inaccuracy of data could lead to a wrong business decision made.
  • Last but not least, we invested time and resources to train business users to be data literate. To us, business users asking the right questions to gather useful insights from data was the most crucial consideration.

What are some of the most exciting developments in Vejthani Hospital, specifically in the emerging technologies you plan to adopt?

Our overall goal is to grow our customer base by harnessing the advantages of BI. Hence, we are now in the process of upgrading our Hospital Information System. Once we complete this project, we intend to expand the use of BI by integrating and analysing medical data, all while protecting the privacy and security of the data. Such data will allow us to offer value-based care to our patients, as these data will provide us with meaningful insights on how to help patient care be more efficient while improving medical outcomes.