What we did
Safeguarding clinicians, hospitals—and patients
Data is more than just numbers for CRICO, a group of companies (and their respective divisions) owned by and serving the Harvard medical institutions and their affiliates, and a leader in medical professional liability (MPL).
Much more. It’s the kind of information that can help save lives.
That’s because CRICO unites medical and insurance communities—both Harvard-based and others—by using data to reduce medical errors, protect providers, and promote patient safety. The organization has decades of experience helping the Harvard medical community’s 35 hospitals,16,000 physicians, more than 325 other healthcare organizations, and more than 140,000 clinicians and employees.
In addition to supporting member organizations such as Mass General Brigham, Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Beth Israel Lahey Health, CRICO also receives and analyzes data from a national collaborative of healthcare systems across the country, representing one-third of all national MPL claims through Candello, a division of the organization.
Patient safety is paramount
At the heart of it all, CRICO data protects patients. “People at CRICO are passionate about protecting the providers and gaining patient safety insights from our data,” says Abbie Brown, vice president and chief information officer (CIO) for CRICO.
CRICO creates tools that improve patient safety and identify risk-reduction solutions to mitigate adverse events and harm. Best practices such as surgical checklists and clinical guidelines help reduce possible errors in inpatient and ambulatory care delivery that could result in malpractice claims or be detrimental to patients’ well-being.
Legacy systems leave challenges
When you’re in charge of that kind of critical data, you need the latest systems.
However, CRICO’s legacy analytics systems were not ready to scale due to more traditional data warehouses and data marts. CRICO’s national Candello clients had limited access to the very data they needed to inform their individual patient safety initiatives.
Processing times were problematic too, as CRICO was working with giant volumes of data with its on-premises environment.
The automated testing and deployment processes we developed have allowed the team—and organization—to operate with confidence.
The making of a modern data solution
When Brown joined CRICO a few years ago, she worked with the leadership team, composed of the analytics program manager, the executive sponsors, the principal data architect, and IT engineers to develop a three-step plan to modernize the analytics platform. “We knew we wanted a cloud solution to leverage cloud storage, scalability, and resiliency,” Brown says.
The team focused on people, process, and technology in its solution.
“First, we made sure we had the right people with the right skills in place before we started,“ says Brown. “Throughout the project, we checked in with the team to make sure everything was going well. Secondly, we leveraged agile project management processes and clear project governance, and identified automated testing and deployment mechanisms.“
Finally, Brown said the team chose cloud-native technology tools like Snowflake, Power BI, Fivetran, DBT, and Okta, which allowed the team to deliver a more sustainable, reliable environment and move out of a legacy, on-prem data center.
The team wanted to deliver initiatives on time and on budget, ensure stability in the solution, and upgrade the IT foundation to minimize risk while keeping the business running smoothly.
With the analytics platform designed, CRICO then selected Slalom as a partner to embark on a plan to upgrade its internal and external-facing analytics capabilities. Slalom’s project governance work with CRICO was especially important as they started their work together, and offered the team a model that kept them on track with biweekly check-ins, anonymous surveys, and more.
Brown says, “We kicked off the analytics engagement by connecting our engineers to assess the current state of data quality and management. Together, we confirmed the selection of an AWS cloud solution and Snowflake. Slalom helped build a secure cloud foundation with EC2, secure API endpoints, and Lambda.“
Data was ingested using the DBT development framework, and the team created data pipelines and transformations with the Snowflake data platform for a multi-tenant, secure data solution.
Adding a Microsoft Power BI analytics layer on top of the cloud foundation took the solution to the next level. The team implemented security policies, established networking and connectivity, and built the infrastructure to support CRICO’s new cloud analytics platform.
CRICO’s new data platform was ready in 10 months. The team was able to bring 20 data sources to the cloud, and now 500 million records are available for greatly improved querying speed to near-instant return of results.
This platform unlocks our ability to be innovative in the data science space and start to look at modernizations like predictive analytics. CRICO has some amazing ideas, and we’ve got people who can help them deliver.
Gaining better insights in less time
CRICO’s clients now work in the Microsoft Power BI cloud-based, self-service tool with faster performance and more insightful analytics.
“It’s been a night-and-day change for the clients and members as they can now answer questions and gain deeper insights right in the tool,“ says Chris Patten, director, data and analytics at Slalom. “We were able to give them a way to leverage modern tools to do self-service exploration.”
CRICO’s Candello clients find it easier to drill down into their clinical and financial data, helping them better manage their risk or assist organizations mine the vast database for events matching their search parameters.
“It becomes a secure way to compare and benchmark while safeguarding patient data,” Brown adds.
Reaping the rewards of scalability
Now, CRICO can work with its data at a scale never before possible. The organization has a robust foundation so it can add new data sources and capabilities.
“The automated testing and deployment processes we developed have allowed the team—and organization—to operate with confidence as far as data quality and with reduced need for manual QA cycles and avoidance of risky manual deployments, saving time and increasing the scalability of the solution,” explains Brown.
Saving money on secure storage
Because Snowflake is a consumption-based model for compute, CRICO only pays for what it uses. The Snowflake solution also allows the organization to store protected health information in the platform, which is critical in the healthcare industry.
For the Candello clients, CRICO has gone from needing to take snapshots of specific dates to enjoying easy-to-use, as-of-date reporting.
“Not only do we now have multitenancy with our Candello clients and can look at data without using separate stand-alone environments, but we also have as-of-date reporting,” Brown adds. “Following our next project of sunsetting our legacy reporting environment, we are looking for additional significant cost-savings.“
Enjoying better response time, performance
Instead of monthly data loads, now CRICO data is loaded every evening (and it could be loaded more frequently if it made sense). There are fewer outages, and the prior day’s data is easily accessible.
“It’s so reliable,” says Brown. “With our old system, it could take minutes before a query would come back. Now we’re down to sub-minute to get 500 cases, which is amazing. We will continue to focus on performance as we roll out additional tools that leverage the new platform.“
Forming a lasting partnership
CRICO and Slalom were in sync from the beginning. “Slalom and CRICO brought each other along each step of the way,” says Patten. “We weren’t just building something and then handing it off. We wanted to make sure that CRICO was going to be able to own their solution moving forward. A big part of the process was helping CRICO find trainings and continually review the design process to ensure alignment. It was a continuous knowledge-transfer opportunity.”
Looking forward, both CRICO and Slalom are excited about future possibilities together.
“This platform unlocks our ability to be innovative in the data science space and start to look at modernizations like predictive analytics,” Patten adds. “CRICO has some amazing ideas, and we’ve got people who can help them deliver.”
Brown notes that a few key elements made the partnership and project successful.
“Number one is we did this in an incremental way,” says Brown. “We also focused on the team, knowledge transfer, and involvement from both Slalom and CRICO. From a partnership perspective, Slalom has exhibited four key elements of leadership: the ability to work with us to set the strategic vision, the ability to execute, the sense of urgency to get things done, and organizational change management. And they really do fire on those four cylinders.”