Case Studies

We Need to Provide Self-Service BI to Our Customers

Matt Brown
July 23, 2020

The Advisory Board Company provides a SaaS solution to some of the largest healthcare providers in the US including Tenet and HCA. Their customers were requesting new features including self-service BI and better ad-hoc reporting for patient encounter data.

The Challenge

The Advisory Board Company (ABC) is a publicly-traded management consulting and software product organization that works with the largest healthcare providers in the US. They have a variety of software products that ingest and analyze data from hospitals, health systems, and physician practices to help support better patient outcomes. Every software product at ABC has a significant data visualization component that delivers custom dashboards and reports. Traditionally they have custom developed their own visualization layers, but this practice was becoming unsupportable due to the level of complexity and ad-hoc capabilities their customers were requesting. ABC was at a tipping point and wanted to find an OEM partner who would allow them to license BI capabilities and incorporate them into the front end of their application.

The Solution

Waterloo performed a BI and data assessment to document and organize existing requirements. In doing so, Waterloo helped decompose the problem into two main areas: 1) selecting a commercial BI vendor to provide data visualization capabilities and; 2) creating a data model that was capable of supporting multi-dimensional analysis. Waterloo developed a vendor scoring matrix for evaluating the BI vendors and then proceeded with scoring BI vendors including QlikView, Cognos, MicroStrategy, Tableau, Yellowfin, Pentaho, JasperSoft, ArcPlan, Informer BI, Metric Insights, and Spotfire. At the end of the evaluation, two vendors were selected for a bake-off. The final vendor was then recommended to ABC and Waterloo helped lead vendor negotiations. The team also produced a design for a dimensional model and OLAP cube to support the required ad-hoc analysis.

The Results

Waterloo took the lead on the necessary ETL and database development to support the required ad-hoc analysis. We also stood up the OEM BI vendor and integrated that into ABC's existing platform. The resulting solution provided analysis on patient encounter data and correlated with physician performance to understand which physicians had the best patient outcomes. This solution is delivered as a multi-tenant BI solution that scales to support over 300 health care systems with a user base of over 3000 power users.

The consultants from Waterloo Data quickly got us up to speed on the current state of the market in BI tools. Based on their experience performing similar assessments, they were able to help us identify a BI tool that met all of our needs. "Buying" versus "Building" allowed us to bring our solution to market much quicker than if we had developed it on our own and our customers loved the finished product.Gary Epple, Managing Director, Advisory Board Company