What's the Latest Development?

ThedaCare, a Wisconsin-based health-care company with five hospitals and more than 20 primary-care clinics, is swimming in data. Patient demographics and information about diseases and treatments are filed away in electronic medical records. Separate and equally confusing systems include payroll and patient billing. If all this information weren't locked away in isolated programs and databases, one could see how ThedaCare might spot trends and deal with them in more cost-effective ways. That is the goal of business intelligence software. 

What's the Big Idea?

Analyzing and aggregating data to cut inefficiency and save money is the path many businesses are beginning to take as software capabilities expand. Whether its reducing redundancies to save on overtime pay or allowing employees greater freedom to do their job, thus increasing productivity, the ability to click through large swaths of data organized into charts and graphs is saving big business some big money. "You can now see patterns of information that you couldn't see before," says Brian Veara, ThedaCare's manager of decision resources." Now, he adds, the question becomes "How do we use it to provide better care and more effective care?"