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Since the launch of the Windows Azure HDInsight Service we’ve seen many companies using Big Data solutions based on HDInsight to gain benefits from analyzing unstructured data within their organization – a good summary of some of these organizations was recently showcased by CIO Magazine.

One of the early adopters of HDInsight was Microsoft Partner, Ascribe, a leading provider business intelligence (BI) clinically focused IT solutions and services for the healthcare industry.  Ascribe wanted to create not just a proof-of-concept BI solution for monitoring infectious disease on the national level, but also a tool that could be used to improve operations for local care providers. “Our goal was to find a way to make data flow more quickly in near-real time,” says Paul Henderson, BI Division Head at Ascribe.

The company asked Leeds Teaching Hospitals, one of the biggest NHS trusts in the UK, to participate in the project. Leeds can generate up to half a million structured records each year in its Emergency Department system. The hospital also generates approximately 1 million unstructured case files each month.

Ascribe decided to implement a hybrid cloud solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise software running on-premises and Windows Azure HDInsight Service running on the Windows Azure platform. Ascribe planned to take advantage of BI tools built into SQL Server 2012, as well as multiple other products and services.

By using natural-language processing and patient-level data in the pilot project, the team identified 30 distinct scenarios where the hospital would be able to improve operations and reduce costs. “There are huge efficiency savings to be had from taking slates to a bedside and updating the patient record there,” says Andy Webster, Lead Clinician, Emergency Department at Leeds Teaching Hospitals.

Leeds looks forward to transforming its operations in several scenarios. For example, the hospital can now look at case notes and identify costly services such as tests that were not recorded in clinical databases. Additionally, by using analytics capabilities and self-service BI tools, healthcare providers can respond faster and collaborate more easily with peers. “If you’re looking at the spread of infectious disease on the national level, you want to figure out what is happening as quickly as possible,” says Henderson. 

By using a distributed platform to aggregate and process information from disparate sources such as emergency room notes, school attendance records, and social media, Ascribe is unlocking the potential of huge volumes of data.  You can learn more about the Leeds Teaching Hospital solution by reading the more detailed case study here.  

You can also read the announcement about Windows Azure HDInsight supporting preview clusters of Hadoop 2.2, and read how to do it here or watch the video here.

HDInsight leverages Microsoft’s partnership with Hortonworks.  View a Hortonworks-Microsoft webinar on the Hybrid Modern Data Architecture , and read more about Microsoft’s involvement with Hadoop through Stinger and partnering with Hortonworks.