Mille Lacs Hospital Operations Report Case Study

Case Studies

The Situation

Before the COVID-19 crisis showed up on their doorstep, Mille Lacs Health System senior leadership was satisfied with how they were receiving information about volumes from the various departments across the hospital. A single data analyst was compiling information gathered from disparate EMRs (yes, they have more than one), billing systems, and even manual tick sheets and logs. Information was generally one to two months delayed due to the effort to compile it all, and it was presented to leadership in the form of a static pdf.

The process may not have been pretty, but it met the need at the time. However when COVID-19 happened, suddenly the leadership team needed much more current information on their volumes so they could better adapt staffing levels. They needed to automate dozens of metrics, and fast.

“We didn’t have a way of getting volume information without physically looking at logs,” Amy Ninham, Health Information Manager for Mille Lacs Health, said. Fortunately, the organization had Compendium and were already using the metric management functionality that comes standard with the data catalog.

The Solution

The Compendium Metric Hub allows metrics to be developed separately from the visualization tool that displays the metrics, as opposed to the traditional approach of developing metrics within each report or dashboard. This allowed metric development to be spread out over multiple data analysts to speed up the work instead of having one visualization developer work through the metrics one at a time. It also allowed metric validation to be assigned to the appropriate subject matter expert and completed as each metric was developed instead of waiting until all the metrics were complete. According to IT Manager Mike Benda, Compendium “got people involved with validation that aren’t normally involved, which is an important step in a progression to drive using the information we have available.”

Here’s how the process worked out:

  1. Metrics were prioritized by the director of HR, who was spearheading the effort, in the order that they would be most useful to the executive team
  2. The first set of metrics were divvied up to the team of data analysts (one metric per analyst)
  3. Each data analyst worked with the subject matter expert (SME) identified for that metric to understand the definition of the metric
  4. Each data analyst then developed and tested their metric, and when they were ready for the SME to validate, they set the metric status to “ready for validation,” which made the metric results and drill-down detail available for the SME
  5. The SME worked with the data analyst to make any necessary changes to the metric
  6. Once the SME was confident the metric was calculating properly, the metric status was changed to “complete” which made it available on the report visible to the executive team

The Results

Since metric development and validation was conducted in an iterative manner and in parallel, the senior leadership team didn’t have to wait for all metrics to be done before seeing results. Instead, they were able to view metrics on their Hospital Operations report as each metric was completed, which allowed them to begin making more timely decisions right away.

The end result for Mille Lacs Health System was much more timely metric data, refreshed on a daily basis instead of once a month, to help make decisions that were urgently needed in the uncharted territory of COVID-19. As a side benefit, Compendium now houses the definitions of all of these metrics in addition to the metric output, making those definitions transparent to the whole organization. Also, any of the metrics can easily be displayed on additional reports and dashboards in the future without having to redevelop them in each visualization tool—they can simply be brought in from the Compendium Metric Hub. And any updates to metric calculations will flow seamlessly from the hub to each report and dashboard.

“Using the Compendium Data Catalog has made reporting and analytics at Mille Lacs Health a lot less complex – people know where to go to find reports and definitions. And with the Metric Hub our process to develop and validate metrics (and keep them all straight!) is drastically improved.”


–Amy Ninham, Health Information Manager, Mille Lacs Health System

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