Sri Vijay uses business intelligence to deliver better quality care during COVID-19

By | 5 minute read | August 24, 2020

Based in Toronto, Canada, Sri Vijay is the Business Intelligence (BI) Specialist on the Analytics and Decision Support team at North York General Hospital (NYGH). Vijay’s daily mission is to use data and analytics to enable the hospital’s clinical staff and senior leadership to deliver better patient care.

Vijay offers his subject matter expertise in data and analytics across a variety of domains, from advising doctors seeking insights on patient revisits to addressing process. “People across the organization reach out to me with problems, and I bring solutions to them through data and visualizations,” he says. Clinical team managers need a better understanding of how busy the emergency department gets, and more specifically, which zone requires their focus to improve patient wait times. Hospital management also works collaboratively with Vijay to define and manage key performance measures and baseline metrics key to securing and increasing hospital funding.

By providing critical metrics in easy-to-understand dashboards, Sri promotes data literacy across the organization. “I enable people to make data insights part of their day-to-day routine” he says, “and give them the confidence to make decisions based on it.”

Making an impact with BI

As part of his current role, Vijay leads end-to-end business intelligence (BI) projects, designs and develops new solutions, and maintains the enterprise BI infrastructure. He actively engages with internal stakeholders and proposes new ways to use analytics to address the hospital’s underlying challenges. His team built and maintains NYGH Insights, the hospital’s central BI and analytics platform using IBM Cognos Analytics to aid the creation of a robust data model for dashboarding solutions.

“I have always believed in trying to make an impact through your work,” says Vijay. “I feel data has many stories to tell, and sometimes you can discover amazing things and even answers to questions you have never been looking for.”

Sri Vijay leads numerous BI projects at NYGH, including building and maintaining a Population Health Determinants solution for the strategy team recently featured in a HIMSS webinar. Working with the hospital’s strategy team, he developed solutions that cover topics from identifying patient hotspots and understanding disease prevalence in neighborhoods using mapping, to analyzing the market share of NYGH compared with peer hospitals. As part of the Ontario Health Teams (OHT) initiative, NYGH health care providers work as a single coordinated team no matter where they provide care. The solution his team developed provides insights into the local population the hospital serves, analyzing socioeconomic factors to define NYGH’s catchment area for the OHT. “These crucial insights helped our strategy team submit a proposal that led to NYGH being selected as part of North York OHT,” Vijay explains.

Better quality care and handling COVID-19

Vijay discovered his passion for data and analytics quite early in his career and finds fulfillment when he can exercise it: helping people with analytics by creating data models. Working with people who share the same enthusiasm and interest for data keeps him going. “I can still recall the first project that I worked on at NYGH,” he recalls. “I was building an Emergency Department Dashboarding solution for the ED team. I had the opportunity to see the real-life patient journey of an ED patient right when the patient came through the doors of the ED.”

Vijay described the experience witnessing an end-to-end patient journey and learning how front-line clinicians gather different data points required for the emergency room. “I was excited to not only help the team with the insights they were looking for regarding optimizing patient wait-times,” he says, “but also to see the real-life impact that data analytics had on improving the patient’s experience.” The ED daily dashboard provided insights prompting reductions in patient readmission and improvements in wait times, earning NYGH recognition from the Province of Ontario, including additional funding recognizing improvements in patient quality of care. This unique tool is the first of its kind to use such a tight focus on the patient experience to make a difference in patient care. Vijay’s team received great feedback from across the ED from clinical team managers, ED physicians and nurses. Now widely admired across the greater Toronto area, the in-house ED solution is now used to benefit other hospital organizations.

Most recently, Vijay took part in providing life-saving information to hospital staff for the preparation of the COVID-19 pandemic. In less than two weeks his team built a real-time COVID-19 dashboard command center using Cognos Analytics and IBM PureData systems for Analytics. The solution provided the data necessary to ensure clinical staff and hospital administrators had the information needed to make the best care decisions for patients. Insights included imminent challenges like preventing shortages of personal protection equipment and ventilators, and maintaining ICU capacity. Vijay knows that providing critical information saves lives.

Being an Analytics Hero

“Throughout my career, I have always strived to provide new and innovative ways of driving a data-driven culture to decision making across the organization,” he Vijay says. “I try to shape the way people perceive data by building novel solutions to encourage them not just to ask questions like ‘how many?’ but to explore the ‘why?’ and ‘where is the problem?’ and ‘what’s driving it?’ questions.” When Sri Vijay moved to healthcare after working in the software and the education sectors, he was initially apprehensive about how to pursue his passion for data and analytics. Little did he know that his love for data and analytics would drive excellence in healthcare at NYGH and make a profound impact in real life. “If you are truly passionate about the work you do,” says Vijay, “you can always find ways to create an impact.”

As an Analytics Hero, Vijay is humbled by the recognition: “I want to thank IBM for nominating me as an Analytics Hero and allowing me to share my experience. Success for me is when I help unlock the answers to questions that people are looking for and maybe direct them toward the right path.”

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