Helping HRSA Leap Forward with Modern Data Analytics Solutions

Background:

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is a federal agency dedicated to enhancing access to healthcare services for uninsured, medically underserved, and vulnerable populations.

With a $10 billion grants portfolio, HRSA supports a wide range of programs designed to achieve this objective, promoting equitable healthcare access and addressing the unique needs of these communities.

Recent innovations in data analytics and business intelligence have introduced new tools that help agencies efficiently analyze data and identify trends. The growing amount of data captured by agencies can further support these processes.

Nonetheless, data only becomes valuable if transformed into meaningful insights and improved outcomes. For HRSA, with its diverse teams and varying skill levels, it was crucial to make data easily accessible and understandable for all users. This allows everyone to use data-driven insights for smart decision-making and to support the organization’s main goals.

Challenge:

HRSA has long valued using data to drive decision-making and improve program outcomes. However, it faced several hurdles in its quest to expand data use throughout the organization.

The agency sought to help users make data-informed decisions independently and needed a tool that could combine various fast-growing data sources without costly and lengthy initial modeling. The goal was to provide reliable data to business users while maintaining synchronization with source systems.

Lastly, HRSA wanted to promote collaboration in creating and sharing insights, making data accessible to all users regardless of their skill level. It wanted to involve business users in projects without overwhelming them.

Solution:

To support HRSA’s goal of being a data-driven organization, REI Systems worked with the agency to implement the Modern Data Analytics Platform (MDAP). This is designed to be a self-service solution, empowering grant and program officers to access and analyze data relevant to their work. By doing so, they can identify trends, gain insights, and mitigate potential risks associated with their programs.

Integrating financial, program, and customer data is crucial for making decisions that improve operations and business processes, as required by the Uniform Grant (UG) Guidance reforms. The UG mandates that federal awarding agencies evaluate applicants based on factors such as financial stability, management systems quality, audit reports, and past performance.

To meet these requirements, the MDAP was the perfect solution.

MDAP organizes over 500 data elements into categories such as Risk and Financials for easy navigation. The platform offers self-service analytics, allowing users to independently access, analyze, and share data insights throughout the analytics process.

The platform offers reusable insights (e.g. risk factors) and supports ad hoc analysis (e.g. grantee compliance with previous award terms). Users can certify and share their content, and MDAP embeds analytics into business processes (e.g., grantee drawdown restrictions) via open APIs, allowing staff to focus on qualitative issues during time-sensitive review cycles.

Dashboards are integrated with EHBs using Tableau JavaScript API, following industry-standard design, development, and quality assurance practices to ensure Section 508 compliance. The Kinesis CI tool automates end-to-end testing of Tableau dashboards, improving data quality across the HRSA data ecosystem.

Load testing for EHBs dashboards is done with TabJolt, a user-friendly tool designed for Tableau. It auto-loads visualizations and interprets user interactions during tests, collecting key metrics such as response time, throughput, and 95% response times, while also tracking Windows performance metrics for correlation.

To address dashboard and reporting needs for the EHB, HRSA uses various tools in its tech stack:

  • DevOps tools such as Octopus, Azure DevOps, and Git are used for continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD).
  • Dashboards are created using Tableau Desktop and Server, with data extracted, transformed, and loaded into SQL Server 2017 DataMart databases using SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS).
  • Tableau metadata is stored in a Postgres database, which is also used for
    admin dashboards.
  • JAWS Reader is used to verify developed dashboards for 508 compliance.

Impact:

MDAP has greatly helped HRSA streamline the process of gathering insights, cutting the time from 40 hours to just one hour. This system provides easy access to business insights for all agency users, leading to significant cost savings across HRSA’s various programs.

MDAP helps over 1,200 staff, such as specialists, officers, analysts, and approvers, involved in grant management and oversight. Even non-technical users can effortlessly create interactive, real-time visuals.

With just a few clicks, they can combine data sources, add filters, and explore specific information. Analytical data can be organized in various formats to identify historical trends, set targets, predict outcomes, or uncover insights.

In terms of risk assessment, HRSA can create improved monitoring plans, set award conditions, or avoid funding high-risk entities.

MDAP also supports HRSA’s balanced scorecard, a strategic tool for communicating and monitoring agency priorities. This scorecard helps unite the organization around essential goals, such as enhancing healthcare access. It also tracks progress using measures such as the percentage of health centers meeting or exceeding specific objectives.

In practice, MDAP has led to significant savings and improvements. It:

  • Reduced analysis delays by 97%, decreasing the time it takes to gain insights. It also removes the need for IT staff support for ad hoc queries, saving about a week per request. MDAP provides end users with more flexibility by allowing interactive data exploration.
  • Saved an average of 2 hours per grant application, totaling over 14,000 hours or 7 full-time employees (FTEs) saved per year.
  • Met legal requirements and prevented fraud, waste, and abuse using integrated risk management strategies.
  • Improved resource allocation, as MDAP insights guide future investment priorities.
  • Boosted organizational clarity with MDAP supporting HRSA’s strategic balanced scorecard.
  • Reduced the total cost of ownership by $1 million annually.

HRSA’s successful approach acts as a model for other organizations to adopt comparable platforms and business intelligence frameworks, regardless of their field. Such efforts will improve program management and operations while fostering a more empowered and engaged workforce. Specifically, other federal grant-making agencies facing similar challenges can benefit from the MDAP approach to fulfill UG requirements and prevent redundant work.

Our MDAP solution won an ACT-IAC Igniting Innovation Award.

Copyright © 2023 REI Systems. All rights reserved.

The post Helping HRSA Leap Forward with Modern Data Analytics Solutions appeared first on REI Systems.

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