Manage health care data more quickly

Community Care Behavioral Health Organization has reduced the time it takes to process data by two-thirds, despite the volume of data increasing by 50 percent a year. With the SAS® Data Integration platform, Community Care is better able to provide cost-effective services for its 1 million members while meeting regulatory obligations.

Pittsburgh-based Community Care manages behavioral health coverage for Pennsylvania Medicaid, Medicare and commercial members. It has been honored for ethical practices in patient care by the American Association of Community Psychiatrists. The organization prides itself on paying particular attention to coordinating care with medical insurers and social service agencies, as behavioral health often affects physical illness and vice versa.

For many years, Community Care used an outside vendor to assist with data processing, but felt going forward it needed to bring the process in-house and blend the data with additional sources to help truly coordinate care. "Our goal is to have one source for all our data reporting," says Mary Doyle, Associate Chief Information Officer.

Community Care's data vendor encouraged the organization to look at SAS. Community Care's IT department was not a SAS shop and was not familiar with the scope of SAS products. The organization invited SAS and another vendor to demonstrate their products. SAS was the unanimous choice – even among the technical staff that had reservations about SAS. "We were sold on the data quality/data cleansing aspects," Doyle said.

... we were able to apply SAS best practices in our data warehouse work, thus reducing the trial and error ...

Mary Doyle
Associate Chief Information Officer

"The pure nature of the data integration studio in terms of point and click versus some of the maintenance of the competitors – SAS is just so much more straightforward," Doyle said.

Community Care manages data obtained from claims processing, internal clinical transactions, member eligibility, and financial and pharmaceutical data.
Community Care now has the option to run reports weekly instead of monthly, and the run times have dropped dramatically. Programming is much simpler, Doyle says. Shortening processing time is incredibly important, because the company’s claims record is 60 gigabytes and is expected to grow by another 30 to 40 gigabytes in the next year. It also stores and reports on 15 gigabytes of authorization data.

Being able to run reports more frequently allows the organization to make better data-driven decisions. "That's something our CEO is really focused on," she says.

For instance, the company can now measure clinical interventions. Does a patient released from the hospital need six follow-up services to maintain the discharge plan, or is eight the preferred number? More importantly, can the staff quickly see which members aren't following post-hospitalization protocols?

"Being able to flag records is so much easier," Doyle says.

The speed and ease also gives Doyle more time to provide customized reports for individual departments.

The organization has also engaged in joint projects with an affiliated physical health insurance plan responsible for serving Pennsylvania residents enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid. The goal is to understand how physical diseases affect behavioral health and vice versa and to use data to help the consumer with all aspects of their health care. Once insurers understand the use patterns, they can team with medical personnel to come up with methods to address the problems. "We've actually been able to move our side of this analysis much quicker using SAS as an analytical tool," Doyle says. "We're looking at being able to structure some data to help answer public health-sector questions."

She says the organization plans to add a predictive analytics component..

The company used SAS Consulting services to get SAS Data Integration up and running quickly.

"The decision to implement SAS strategies in building our warehouse had a direct impact upon its success. By partnering with SAS, we were able to apply SAS best practices in our data warehouse work, thus reducing the trial and error that we might have otherwise endured. We had a wonderful experience," Doyle said.

"I've worked with a lot of different consultants before, and I have to say this is the first one that came in under budget. I thought the folks we worked with were very practical. They were respectful of the fact that we had a very limited number of hours to work with and everything we asked for was given. Working with SAS has been exceptional."


Needed to bring its data warehouse in-house, work with multiple sources of data and produce reports quickly.


SAS® Data Integration


Slashed processing time by two-thirds and can make better data-driven decisions.


The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.

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