Qld hospital admits open source BI

Legacy spreadsheets replaced with Web-based application

Sargent said data integration is done with a mixture of flat file parsing and direct interfaces to data stores with PHP.

"All up, some 129 individual parameters are fed into the dashboard for real-time alerting," Sargent said. "We have given them a very powerful reporting and monitoring tool that has potential for use right throughout the Australian hospital system."

The system is hosted on-site at the hospital and runs on Red Hat Linux.

NetOptions' general manager of software development, Greg Thiele, said custom development was required as there was nothing available off the shelf to satisfy the hospital's requirements.

"The problem with COTS is can the customer accept the limits of the application," Thiele said, adding the good thing about development is customers get exactly what they want.

"This was really an exercise in bringing a large number of KPIs into a user interface that is usable," he said. "The hospital didn't want anyone to rekey data [so] where data existed we were extracting it and where data wasn't recorded we provided data entry in the Web interface."

Thiele said the software was developed to be flexible and the organization doesn't have to be a hospital.

Smith said the dashboard looks like a car dashboard with lights, dials and needles to indicate each of the 129 parameters.

"We set limits on each of the parameters and use a combination of colours to show warnings, and gauges to show rates," he said. "All indicators are classified into four main areas - HR, Quality, Finance, and Clinical (inpatients and operating theatre). The display of these functions is customizable for each individual enabling them to view their significant data their way and then drill down for more detail should there be concerns. The dashboard is in fact a Web page built [with the] AJAX process which enables instant updating of individual elements on the page without a total refresh."

Smith said executive management now know within an instant which areas need their focus depending on the alerts preset within the dashboard system.

"At last now we get to see the problem as it happens and have time on our side to look for the solutions in days rather then weeks," he said.

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