Eksote, the South Karelia Social and Health Care District, is engaged in intermunicipal cooperation and the allocation of resources in a way that the rest of the country is just planning.
In 2010, the municipalities of South Karelia formed a joint municipal authority called Eksote. At the time of its establishment, both financial data and operational information were spread across several systems in the individual municipalities. As a result, decision making was extremely complicated.
At the beginning of 2011, a decision was made to standardise reporting. Initiated by the executive management, the project was to create a reporting system based on coherent data and a set of indicators for use by Eksote’s management in the decision making affecting the entire organisation.
One of the prerequisite critical to Eksote’s success is the ability to collect, process and disseminate accurate and sufficient information on the operations and finances of the organisation, and to have in place a management system based on information management and analytics and the strategy of the organisation. This was established as the guiding principle for the ‘Luotsi’ project (Pilot).
Extensive monitoring of operations
The project started with a definition phase carried out in close collaboration by Eksote and Affecto. At this point, decisions were made on the items for which indicators were to be created, the data sources to be integrated and on other issues related to the user interface and user experience. The project was divided into two phases because the number of both data sources and indicators was high.
“At the outset, some of the data were already available in centralised data warehouses. Many new systems and data sources were then added during the course of the project,” says Eksote’s Project Manager Katja Klemola.
The Luotsi system includes both financial and operational indicators. Of the financial indicators, the most important is budget monitoring.
“Strategically, a key task was to trim down institutional care by creating less burdening forms of care. Performance in this respect is monitored with the aid of operational and financial indicators.
Other important items to follow include measuring the level of freedom of choice exercised by customers based on the usage rate of service vouchers, and rating the performance in providing guaranteed access to medical care.
The use of digital services increases at the same time as the number of customer service staff decreases.
“We’re monitoring very closely how many of our customers use the online services and how many prefer the selfservice terminals at the hospitals.”
The biggest single challenge in creating the Luotsi system is the multivendor environment. The old distributed environment included a wide range of different data sources created at different times.
“It was in integrating the data sources and reports that Affecto’s experts truly proved their competence. They made real effort to get to know our operations and what the various reports mean,” says Klemola.
Luotsi’s first phase was completed at the end of 2012 and the second in January 2014. The project will be followed by a further development programme at the same pace as the indicators evolve. The system is built on IBM Cognos BI technology, which was familiar to Eksote from before.
Foresighting and transparency
Coherent, reliable and up-to-date information makes it possible to foresee future developments. For example, forecasts predicting changes in the dependency ratio are made and used as a basis for developing services. The same data are harnessed in budgeting and the allocation of human resources. Financial indicators measure deviations from budgeted operating expenditure and help drill down into the data to identify the causes.
With unambiguous and reliable forecasts, it is possible to test various operating models and future scenarios. This is how the various models of elderly care are planned and their impacts on required human resources and costs evaluated.
Thanks to Luotsi, the transparency of information has also improved across the entire organisation. Now, the process of entering the information in the system is more standardised and the quality of information is better than earlier. As the reports are becoming more and more reliable, decision making rests on a much firmer foundation. Savings are also made in working hours.
“Previously, the information was gathered from various sources across the organisation and it took some twenty people to do the job. Collection and reporting are highly labour-intensive. Now, the information is stored in the system as it is created in the process and reporting is centralised,” explains Klemola.
New indicators introduced on an on-going basis
The system is being continually developed with regard to operational indicators.
“We want to learn to monitor whether the strategic measures have steered our operations and finances in the preferred direction. In this respect, we’re just taking the first steps in harnessing the information.”
From the outset, the project was executed using an agile method.
“Cooperation with Affecto has been smooth. We’ve been able to roll out the new system step by step.”
The new system is being used by over 400 Eksote staff members. Training was provided on courses held twice a year. Since new content is added to Luotsi on an on-going basis, training focuses on teaching not only technical skills but also how to make full use of its potential.
“Our staff have learnt to use the system extensively. The more information we offer, the more they expect from the system. It’s good feedback and proves that the project was successful,” concludes Klemola.