Michigan Medicine optimizes workforce with Tableau, saving 5,000 analyst hours in just one year



Michigan Medicine is home to one of the largest health care complexes in the world, with three hospitals, 40 outpatient hospitals, and more than 140 clinics. Michigan Medicine’s Fast Analytics team serves the data needs of over 30 internal groups. With Tableau, automated reporting saved the health system over 5,000 hours on four different projects in a year. What was siloed information is now accessible to over a dozen people across teams, leading to faster decisions. A charge estimate dashboard built in Tableau sped up a four-and-a-half hour process into a four-and-a-half second query. These time savings allowed Michigan Medicine to reassign headcount to more strategic projects and disseminate data across the organization.

Just four projects save over 5,000 hours in one year

Previously Michigan Medicine’s analytics team managed a large, “archaic” billing system. To produce reports, they either had to do the coding themselves or pay large fees to an outside vendor, and the final output was often late or incorrect.

“To get a report out that we needed, we either had to code it ourselves in an obscure language, or we had to pay the vendor to do it for us. It was very costly,” explains Jonathan Greenberg, Director of Fast Analytics.

“Half the time, even when we paid the vendor, we would find out later that delays and other problems with their internal processes would keep us waiting far past the estimate, the cost would always be higher, and it wasn't an efficient way to run the reporting section of our group.”

As Michigan Medicine shifted its billing system to Epic, the organization realized the need for a faster, scalable analytics platform.

“We knew we needed something quick. We knew we needed something efficient, and we knew we needed to have a product ready once Epic rolled out and folks were starting to look for their data again.”

To counter these challenges, Michigan Medicine implemented Tableau and the Fast Analytics team was born, tasked with assisting over 30 groups with their dashboards.

Jonathan explains how “there are at least four projects that [the Fast Analytics team] completed that have saved over 5,000 hours in the last fiscal year,” with help from Tableau.

Enabling 19 groups—eliminating 48 hours of work per week

Initially, the Fast Analytics team created a report for an internal customer that eliminated 48 hours of work per week. Additionally, more teams have access to the dashboard, allowing for more creative, data-driven problem solving.

“She was reassigned to a much higher level of work, and not only was that dashboard available for the ED department where it was needed, but with a dropdown we were able to give filtering to all the departments. And so now, 19 groups can use it instead of just one.”

Tableau allows us to quickly automate processes that used to take thousands-literally thousands of hours, into seconds.

Critical charge estimate dashboard shifts a 4.5 hour process into a 4.5 second query

The team created a charge estimate tool that better assists customer service staff in providing estimates to external customers about healthcare services.

“We took a four-and-a-half-hour process that involved a number of tools and high level of expertise and turned it into four and a half second query,” said Jonathan.

This tool has become a “critical component” of their customer service business model as self-pay becomes more prevalent. These dashboards are now more readily available across the organization, leading to faster reporting and better resource allocation.

"We used to have two people who could do this process, and now we have 17 because it's so simple."

Capturing “infinity”: Automating 85-92% of reconciliation

Jonathan shares how Tableau allowed Michigan Medicine to automate 85 to 92 percent of their reconciliation and provided a baseline to quickly reconcile the remaining portion—which wasn’t possible before the software.

“The time impact was huge. It's actually immeasurable because the old number was infinity. We never really were able to reconcile an entire month prior to this tool being created by my team.”

When the Fast Analytics team built a request for the executive strategy group, they combined over 50 data sources into “well over 60 visualizations.” The executive management team continues to use these dashboards to track success against organization-wide metrics and goals.

We took a four-and-a-half-hour process that involved a number of tools and high level of expertise and turned it into four and a half second query...There are at least four projects that we completed that have saved over 5,000 hours in the last fiscal year.

Self-service analytics helps 30 teams better allocate resources

In addition to serving Michigan Medicine’s reporting needs, Jonathan explains how Tableau integrates with existing systems to keep data secure.

“Tableau gave us the ability to integrate with our native identity management system, which is all through Active Directory. One of the advantages of using Tableau is that we can create Active Directory groups that can be managed outside of Tableau, put that work and that management in the hands of our customers, and we get out of the data access business.”

Aside from onboarding efforts, the Fast Analytics team empowers teams to dive into their own data with Tableau. This allows the analytics team to work on high-level projects and gives 30 internal teams the ability to find insights in their data.

Jonathan says, “There is no doubt that we are in an ROI far beyond what we paid for the software.”

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