NHS Scotland invests in analytics
NHS Scotland has selected software provider Advanced to implement a new business analytics application in partnership with IBM.
The application will be rolled out across NHS Scotland’s 22 health boards and is designed to make significant reductions in financial reporting times with reports running in a fraction of the time compared to the previous solution, providing major time savings to the organisation.
The four year contract is worth £360,000 and will see the software provider delivering the IBM application, which is due to go live in August 2016.
Last month we reported that nine in ten public sector finance professionals are still using manual processes for managing at least part of their budgeting and forecasting processes, with the majority still relying on Excel spreadsheets.
NHS Scotland employs 160,000 people and has been using Advanced’s financial management system, eFinancials to manage its general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable and procurement/stock activities across all 22 boards for the past three years. A number of the individual boards have been using the system since its launch in the 1990s.
Building on their successful partnership with Advanced, the organisation sought advice around business analytics processes in order to enhance speed of reporting and efficiencies. Advanced devised a solution using IBM’s PureData technology that would provide analysts and accountants with access to real-time data without affecting the live operational database.
The new application acts as a gateway between eFinancials, which has around 1,500 regular users, and business intelligence solution Business Objects which is used to run the reports. Reporting requirements are now diverted to a mirror copy of the database.
Colin White, national finance systems manager, NHS Scotland, said: “With our database size constantly growing, we needed a quicker and more efficient reporting solution. We explored various ways of doing this such as designing a datamart that only contained the data needed for reporting, but this would not provide access to real time data.
“We also looked at pointing our reports at a mirror image disaster recovery database which would at least divert the reporting away from our operational database but this would not provide the necessary level of improved performance that we were looking for. It wasn’t until we approached Advanced that we identified a solution to this issue.
“We have been rigorously testing the new approach using Advanced’s business analytics application and we found that we could generate reports, using any parameters we wanted, significantly quicker – with some reports generating results in seconds rather than hours. Not only that, but the data is being replicated in real-time so it is fully up-to-date, with data retrieval time improvements of around 50 to 500 times faster.”
NHS Scotland has also previously implemented document management technology (powered by V1) to streamline its document handling processes including the use of V1 Capture within the accounts payable department. This technology integrates into eFinancials and electronically processes and archives around five million documents every year.