Advisor to Mutualité Chrétienne/Christelijke Mutualiteit general management
More proactive budget management for health and disability insurance
The Belgian health insurance organization Mutualité Chrétienne/Christelijke Mutualiteit (MC/CM) is using data visualization to better manage healthcare expenses.
Many sectors of the economy have to respond to new social challenges with limited budgets. The ever-changing healthcare sector is no stranger to this reality. In particular, health insurance organizations that co-manage health and disability insurance together with the Belgian National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (INAMI/RIZIV) require ever more detailed information in order to make the right budgetary decisions. The stakes are high. It means the preservation of an efficient, quality healthcare system that is also compatible with the needs of the population. MC/CM has chosen SAS® Visual Analytics as its decision-making solution in the various management commissions.
With 41% of the Belgian population registered with MC/CM and 4.5 million affiliates, it is clearly a major player in healthcare management in Belgium. Every month, this health insurance organization dispatches dozens of representatives to multiple commissions and working groups within the INAMI-RIZIV. This Institute organizes and manages one of the country’s largest social security budget items in collaboration with healthcare professionals.
The SAS solution enables information to be circulated in an intuitive and interactive manner between IT, business, R&D and medical managers.
MC/CM is pioneering the use of SAS Visual Analytics
Thanks to SAS, MC/CM representatives are now better equipped to make meaningful contributions in these meetings with all relevant information at their fingertips. “We are the first in Belgium to implement the SAS Visual Analytics tool to make management of health and disability insurance more proactive,” observes Alain Conrath, strategic advisor to MC/CM management.
Supplied mainly with own and public data from INAMI/RIZIV, the analytics software enables MC/CM representatives to make suggestions for improving health and disability insurance management. “The SAS solution enables us to properly gauge and anticipate budgets according to the different sections of health and disability insurance. These sections include among others hospital stays, doctors’ visits, and home care. At the same time, it enables people to network and circulate information between IT, business, R&D and medical managers within MC/CM.”
The goal is clear: to have the most precise control of budgets possible in order to reallocate margins in accordance with the new needs of the population. All of this must be kept in line with technological advances as well as the public's habits in areas such as outpatient hospital treatment and home care.
Capacity for visualization
SAS Visual Analytics was selected after completion of a proof of concept exercise. The software’s comprehensive visualization and mapping capabilities make the reading of various dashboards accessible to managers who may not be well versed in advanced statistical tools. Tracking of budget and expenditure models, in an intuitive and interactive manner, is greatly facilitated for a target audience that does not have the time available to adequately massage the data. The fact that other SAS solutions are already well established at an inter-organizational level was also a significant advantage.
Currently, the SAS Visual Analytics reports are prepared by the MC/CM R&D department, which employs approximately fifteen people, including eight SAS specialists. Bram Peters and Hervé Avalosse are part of the team of data scientists preparing the decision-making data in collaboration with the different departments. They emphasize that “It is essential to use a multidisciplinary team composed of IT specialists, business and financial managers and R&D managers to design efficient, relevant data models.”
Four key lessons
The actual realization of this project required only 50 man-days. Alain Conrath has learned four major lessons from this project:
- The first rule is to keep it simple! The tool is designed for busy executives, not statisticians.
- It is important to launch a project of this type with something very concrete and well-defined in scope. This encourages a buy-in by a wide range of users.
- Do not underestimate the time needed to prepare reports and data, even when working in close collaboration with the IT department.
- The Autoload function of the software for data in memory has proven to be the key to its user-friendliness.
Make appropriate data available to the public
MC/CM intends to put this data visualization project to good use for other healthcare management organizations as well. In the long term, it could be very beneficial to make certain data available in a basic and user-friendly manner to the general public and anyone with a specific interest in healthcare management.
Improve decision-making in the health insurance sector through improved data visualization.
- Representatives of MC/CM are better informed to discuss budgets in INAMI/RIZIV commissions
- Easy, interactive dashboards stimulate data driven policy making
- Better flow of data between business, IT, finance and medical professionals
- Work with a multidisciplinary team to design the right data models
- Do not underestimate time spent with IT to prepare the data models
- Start simple in order to gradually increase the granularity of the dashboards based on the input and needs of executives and decision makers