Driving smart decisions with self-service business intelligence

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Ben Tai
Ben Tai

Today's senior living communities have started going high-tech, and the evolution is having quite an effect on communities and residents.

Many communities are implementing Wi-Fi-connected surveillance and other gadgetry with the goal of improving management and resident quality of life. The real technology stars are behind the scenes, however, in the form of data analytics and business intelligence.

The senior living community owners, operators and employees who are using the right business intelligence tools are experiencing the best results. They started to use the data they already have been tracking in ways they previously never had imagined, turning data into actionable analyses. By doing so, they not only are able to streamline current business processes; these analyses also allow communities to identify smart ways to save money while still providing high-quality care and services and, ultimately, increasing the overall satisfaction of residents and families.

Here's a look at how one forward-thinking retirement community is using data analysis to better manage staff, increase occupancy, reduce the number of slip and falls, and more.

One community's experience

Friendship Senior Options is a not-for-profit organization that sponsors two continuing care retirement communities in the Chicago area, the relatively new GreenFields of Geneva and the 30-plus-year-old Friendship Village of Schaumburg.

The communities provide a continuum of services for seniors, including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, rehabilitation therapy and memory care. An FSO investment that is providing strong returns is in business intelligence, or BI.

Many view BI as a very expensive, complex technology used by IT departments, and in many cases, it still is. Large, well-known technology brands continue to convince organizations to pour millions of dollars into BI solutions.

Newer cloud solutions, however, require minimal training, no data warehouse, no programming and little to no IT expertise. Because these new tools are “cloud-native,” they are relatively inexpensive, can be used throughout the company by non-technical workers and can be up and running almost immediately.

Senior Living technology reseller The Loyola Group introduced FSO to DrivenBI, a cloud-native self-service BI platform designed to empower business professionals without IT's constant support, to help them explore the potential value of monitoring their everyday operations. FSO selected DrivenBI's cloud-native data analysis platform, SRK, to help modernize its business analysis and reporting and to deliver new insights and “ah-ha” moments for staff and management.

Today, FSO leaders can use BI to improve programs, services and quality of life for residents because it allows them to better understand how effectively they run the business. Data-driven decisions based on SRK analysis of program outcomes, services trends and interrelationships between the performance of their programs and departments are all positively contributing to FSO's bottom line.

DrivenBI and The Loyola Group continue to support FSO remotely and on-site through professional services that include training and consulting. To date, they have helped FSO identify and create more than 65 key performance indicators, tracking performance that spans 31 different operational areas, streamlining the organization's analysis processes and automating formerly time-consuming tasks.

Some of the indicators being tracked:

  • Labor, expense and quality assurance data. These data help FSO manage expenses (more than the bottom line). Comparing budgeted targets allows FSO to increase or decrease spending.
  • Slips and falls. The administrator of the health center views falls versus hours per patient day / person hours on a visual dashboard to properly redistribute staff members or focus on problem areas throughout the community. The administrator of FSO's health center presents these data at the department head / quality assurance meetings. Many hospitals use such data to monitor and improve quality of care and service.
  • Fitness. Fitness center staff members can see how their programs reduce the number of slips and falls, sickness and medication needs.
  • Medical dosages. Tracking the medical needs of residents enables FSO to eliminate the possibilities of incorrect dosages. Staff members monitor the number of times that an incorrect dosage of medication is given, if at all. Where is it happening? How many times is it happening? Once they find out, they can implement procedures to prevent it from happening again and improve the overall quality of care.
  • Occupancy. FSO is increasing occupancy rates by monitoring daily occupancy and comparing it with the budgeted maximum for the day. For example, by having a 90% occupancy rate and 10% idle rate, the organization ensures that beds always are available. This “idle capacity” minimizes the cost of delaying or denying admission for long periods of time, which could lead to resident dissatisfaction or even the loss of a potential resident.
  • Targeted improvement. The ability to compare and contrast unrelated key performance indicators allows FSO to spot operational areas that need attention so it can take action immediately to improve outcomes.

“SRK helps because it lets you visualize a trend rather than just talk about it,” said Ben Gilchrist, vice president of operations at FSO. “Using SRK analysis, charts and reports in meetings lets the team immediately see the whole story and identify what is working and what is not based on real results.”

FSO leaders took advantage of SRK's cloud BI capabilities the very first day they could, because doing so meant they did not need to invest in additional IT staff, learn how to do data modeling or programming, purchase hardware or software, or build a data warehouse to support the data analysis. With SRK's collaboration features, staff and management can share information and insights securely and in real time. Comparing key performance indicators from a variety of functional areas to derive cross-functional KPI analysis has been particularly useful to FSO's management team.

“FSO uses SRK to give management a 360-degree view of how we are doing based on key performance indicators across multiple departments,” said Michael Flynn, vice president and chief financial officer at FSO. “With SRK, we uncover insights from looking at the relationships and impact of those relationships associated with KPI's across departments that we would never have thought to compare in the past. SRK has helped us to unearth better insights across our operations and make sure that we are allocating resources correctly.”

Ben Tai is the founder and CEO of DrivenBI. His career also includes executive positions at Business Objects, Vitria and Oracle. Tai holds a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, and he studied American culture at Columbia University and business administration at the University of Southern California Marshall Business School.

McKnight's Senior Living welcomes marketplace columns on subjects of value to the industry. Please see our submission guidelines for more information.

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