Software That Saves Lives
The statistics were telling: 15% to 20% of neurosurgery patients developed infections in the drains that neurosurgeons implanted to draw away fluids, a complication that not only threatened lives, but also led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in treatment costs annually.
Dr. Daniel St
That may not be surprising, but his choice of IT tools is: St
"I needed to handle large databases and have tools to make proper decisions on which patients were to be selected for specialized and very expensive care," he says.
"Certainly, [this accomplishment] would be possible without technology, but that would take a lot of work [from] several people working continuously. That costs a lot, and it is very difficult to keep performance 24 hours a day on the highest level. There will be mistakes, misunderstandings, etc., resulting in repeated failures," says St
This innovative use of QlikView software earned QlikTech International and St
To be sure, St
Such experiences, he says, allowed him to recognize how computers could help doctors make critical decisions by providing them with analysis of information that they just couldn't access quickly enough through manual systems. And when he saw another hospital using QlikView, he saw the possibilities that this particular application could bring to his own medical work.
"I understood how extremely fast they could make searches, and how they could combine all data in an illustrated way," he says.
"You could see these patterns with other tools, but it was much easier with QlikView," St
"There are a number of predictors for head injury patients. You can weigh them together to get a score, and you can do that rather early and see [whether a] patient is in danger of a bad development," St
The predictors include a patient's age, cranial pressure and white blood cell counts. Taken together, those metrics can indicate potentially life-threatening complications.
"All the data sources were already defined. Dr. St
But challenges still arose, of course. St
It was also a challenge to integrate pictures, which take up a lot of memory, Rylander says. To deal with that, he put in links to pictures, allowing users to call up only the images needed without putting them in the QlikView file itself.
There is some movement, however. Dr. Peter Nyberg, chief of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, is following St
"My interest is to get quick and reliable analysis from a quality system," Nyberg says, explaining that in the past, there have been challenges in connecting the different hospital databases and getting useful analysis from them.
Despite those earlier challenges, Nyberg decided to try QlikView based on St
"Why should hospital personnel take hours or weeks [finding that data]? What they really want is to have the results," Nyberg says.
Boris Evelson, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., says he's not surprised by the doctors' use of QlikView. BI tools are reaching into every market segment, Evelson says, because they not only help improve productivity and efficiency, but also help organizations to remain competitive.
"Business intelligence is definitely exploding in every market segment," he says, "because intelligence is the main competitive differentiator these days."