Focus on: Empowering Employees, Engaging Customers

When a patient is wheeled into the operating room for a procedure, every second matters. Whether the patient is receiving local, regional, or general anesthesia, the quality and efficiency of care depends on the method by which it is being delivered. Too often, however, the traditional model of anesthesia care treats patients and the medical professionals involved like disparate cogs of a machine and doesn’t make proper use of the resources at the hospital’s disposal.

Consider David, a hospital administrator who is currently overseeing an emergency appendectomy procedure that requires general anesthesia. Depending on which traditional method of anesthesia care David’s hospital implements, there may be an anesthesiologist, CRNA, and hospital operating room staff in the operating room at the time of the procedure—plus the surgeon conducting the appendectomy. Because there are so many individuals involved in the procedure, David must commit valuable time and resources to coordinating and overseeing these moving pieces. Those are resources that would be better spent innovating processes and improving efficiency and accountability. And let’s not forget about the patient, the potential to improve  quality of care through better collaboration and more efficient use of resources.

What if there was a better way to administer anesthesia care for patients? A performance-driven model that uses real-time data to promote accountability among administrators, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and CRNAs, as well as the efficiency of resources? What if this model could help hospitals spend less budget on labor costs and manual data management and reallocate these resources toward spearheading new initiatives and innovating processes?

The mission to reinvent and refine anesthesia care has been the driving force behind NorthStar Anesthesia’s journey. This is a real story of digital transformation.

A healthcare headache

NorthStar Anesthesia has spent the past twelve years reinventing and refining the anesthesia care model. Built on a commitment to mending a broken healthcare system, NorthStar employs over 2,000 anesthesiologists and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) across 20 states to better meet the needs of surgeons and patients alike.

As an organization tapped into the pulse of the American healthcare system, many of NorthStar’s struggles ring true to anyone tuned in to current events. Decreased hospital budgets and declining reimbursements, paired with increasing provider and labor costs growing at 2 to 3% each year created a squeeze on financial margins.

Click on the dashboard above to view an interactive sample healthcare report using Power BI.

Empowering analysts to make better decisions faster

NorthStar’s old technology data management applications created a challenge to anesthesia labor optimization. Every month, NorthStar analysts built out unique customer presentations from 2,400 data points—including revenue, satisfaction, HR, accounting, and billing data. So much so, that employees often interacted with an average 15 unique reports every day. Not only were four different groups building these complicated reports every few weeks, but due to the nature of the work, data points were often outdated on the presentation day. There was often little consistency between decks, and each additional presentation limited employees’ ability to focus on more valuable tasks.

NorthStar Vice President of Operations Matt Mettry explains, “There was no consistency, and the next day the data was just out of date. We couldn’t make good decisions and I was not proud to bring that to our executive team…I wasn’t getting what I needed out of the analysts, to tell me why and give me recommendations on what we should change to save money or bring in more revenue. All their focus was just on gathering the data. It was really non-value added.”

By replacing their existing data analytics solution with Power BI, NorthStar was able to optimize their platform by seamlessly integrating Power BI’s advanced visualization and automation tools into their existing presentation templates to redefine the way they applied their data. Instead of committing hours and hours to each presentation, Power BI allows NorthStar analysts instant access to refreshed, up-to-date insights (from multiple data sources) at the push of a button—removed from human error. HR data, billing, accounting—all 2,400 data points are automatically aligned to NorthStar’s BI dashboard for compelling and accessible data.

Click on the dashboard above to view an interactive sample healthcare report using Power BI.

NorthStar’s Power BI adoption is also optimizing their analytics process. Now, analysts and executives alike can access a Power BI dashboard from their laptop, desktop, tablet, or smartphone.

“What’s really astounded me is that these analysts are able to take these basic Power BI templates and run with them. You can connect to a few data sources and have a report ready for production in a couple of hours and gain insights,” Mettry says.

With Power BI, NorthStar can integrate their reports into SharePoint for easy collaboration and store their information in Azure, where row-level security ensures employee and customer data stays secure.

These new analytics tools have empowered NorthStar employees to make data-driven decisions. With easily accessed and applied data insights, even the less tech-friendly employees can engage with Power BI dashboards to draw unique customer insights.

By creating a smarter system to view their data, analysts discovered an additional $50,000 in potential incremental insurance payer reimbursement from a single client, in addition to an estimated $1M in potential anesthesia labor optimization savings. These data insights have not only empowered NorthStar to revamp their reimbursement and labor management processes but have improved employee morale through removing the grind and repetition of manual data management.

Click on the dashboard above to view an interactive sample healthcare report using Power BI.

And they didn’t do it alone. With their solution in place, NorthStar reached out to US Medical IT to help optimize their new tools. US Medical IT specializes in equipping healthcare providers with the implementation, support, and training they need to make the most of their new initiatives, and got NorthStar’s new BI system up and delivering in less than three months.

Personalizing customer insights

With stunning data visualizations and relevant insights, Power BI is not only helping NorthStar save money but making a significant impact on their customers. Customers are regularly impressed by the simplicity of the analytics, but are even more impressed when NorthStar highlights OR utilization data that could save hospitals significant money year over year. Now, they’re not just advertising improved anesthesia services efficiency, they’re personalizing it on a customer-by-customer basis and backing it up with data.

“[Customers] are just wowed by our ability to track this data,” Mettry says. These tools are supporting NorthStar’s value proposition and visualizing every variable in ways other competitors can’t.

Data driven insights and manageable dashboards have transformed NorthStar Anesthesia’s analytics. Power BI has empowered their entire organization to rethink the way they apply data, serve their customers, and manage their accounts. In a constantly changing healthcare system, this adoption isn’t just changing an organization, it’s changing people.


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To learn more about how NorthStar Anesthesia and US Medical IT use Power BI to drive digital transformation, catch the Rich Insights Webcast, or click here to see one of their dashboards for yourself.