Medihelp recognised by Computerworld as a 2011 Honors Laureate

MedihelpComputerworld Honors is the longest running annual global program honouring visionary applications of information technology that promotes positive social, economic and educational change.

“The number and quality of nominations this year were very inspiring and demonstrate how valuable IT is to community change,” said John Amato, Publisher, Computerworld. “Computerworld is very proud to name the 2011 class of Laureates and showcase their initiatives benefiting society through innovative uses of IT.”

Medihelp, South Africa’s third largest open medical scheme, has been named a Laureate in the 2011 Computerworld Honors Program.

Medihelp is one of 263 organisations who were selected from more than a thousand nominees from 23 countries. The nominations fall within eleven categories and Medihelp’s case study entitled ‘Business Critical High Performance Data Warehouse’ was one of those chosen in the health category.

“In the data warehouse environment the quality of data and the speed at which it can be extracted is of critical importance. The speedy delivery of high quality data translates to a quicker decision making process which allows your organisation to gain a competitive advantage,” says Reinette Fourie, Executive Manager IT at Medihelp. The BI portfolio acts as the custodian of the Operational Data Store as well as the Data Warehouse. The Operational Data Store was identified as the storage medium for 15 years of Medihelp data in order to comply with legislation regarding record keeping. The functionality of the Data Warehouse has evolved to provide a variety of essential services to various divisions within the organization as well as to certain external parties.

“Until recently our data warehouse data was stored and maintained on a traditional relational database which had limited history preservation capabilities. We recognised that we needed a more adaptable, high-performance data warehouse architecture to meet our growing business needs” says Jan Steyl, Senior Manager: Business Intelligence (BI). After investigating the options available in this market, Medihelp decided to partner with the B.I.Practice, a division of Sybase South Africa, to deploy a solution which includes Sybase IQ, a highly optimised data warehousing and analytics platform designed specifically for complex analytics on large data volumes. The IBM InfoSphere integration platform (DataStage) is used for all data ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) processes.

The project began in April 2010 and is scheduled to be completed by December 2011. Thus far the project has had many successes including cutting certain query response times by between 72% and 93%. This new BI Architecture enables the end-users to gain quicker access to more historically complete and accurate data. This is specifically helpful in Medihelp’s health economics, client relations and product development divisions where complex data like demographics, chronic conditions and claims profiles of members must be accurate, quick to access and continuously available.

“The project could be considered both an innovation and a best practice in terms of the deployment of leading-edge data warehousing capabilities, supporting everything from routine reporting to rapid ad hoc database queries to advanced analytics,” says Steyl. This benefits society by enabling Medihelp to create and fine-tune its product offerings through the use of various analytics to ensure quality healthcare delivery while managing costs.

The 2011 Laureates was recognised publicly at the Laureate Medal Ceremony and Gala Evening in Washington D.C. on 20 June 2011. Medihelp was proud to receive the Laureate award at this prestigious event.