Using an EMR for Business Intelligence (BI)

I just completed my very last class of my educational career (I’ll graduate with my Masters in IS on Saturday. Yeah Me!). My last class was a Business Intelligence class. While I wasn’t necessarily fond of this class or the teacher, I am definitely interested in business intelligence.

Business Intelligence to me is really just about being able to look at large amounts of data in really cool ways. EMR is basically synonymous with the concept of large amounts of data. Each and every day thousands of really interesting pieces of information are being entered into an EMR. Many times this data is organized in such a way that in can be easily accessed and reported on.

For my class, we’ve been using SQL Server 2005’s business intelligence components. While Microsoft may have its downfalls, they really have put some thought and effort into SQL Server 2005’s BI components. For my final project, I decided to extract some appointment data from my EMR (yes, I guess it’s really my PMS, except for things like the room for the appointment) and run some BI analysis on the EMR data.

I actually had to anonymize all the EMR data before using it, because I was working in a group where they weren’t allowed access to all the HIPAA related information. However, it wasn’t too big of a deal in the end. Although, it does lose some of the reporting ability when you do that.

Since we ended up only pulling out simple appointment data from the EMR database, we could only really run reports about appointments. Don’t get me wrong. There is some really cool stuff you can report on appointments. We reported on appointments by date (this includes day, month, quarter, year, etc), provider, gender, birthdate, ethnicity, etc. We also uploaded the room number that an appointment used so that we could measure the utilization of our exam rooms. Luckily our EMR stored all the information about exam rooms. We also pulled in the data that described when a patient arrived at the clinic, when the nurse started the intake and when the provider finally saw them. We haven’t actually built any reports on that time study data, but it would be really interesting.

That’s really just the beginning of what we were able to do with the EMR data, but I think you get the point. The real question at this point is what other EMR data could benefit from some quality BI analysis? Here’s a few of my thoughts:

-Blood pressure – Depending on how this is stored will determine how easy it is to report. However, it would be really interesting to see trends in blood pressure across our entire population. Add in a few filters for certain medications and you could see some amazing results
-Average Charge per Patient – Could be interesting to look at this and identify which patients are the most profitable. Wait, doctors aren’t about profit are they?
-Average Number of Visits per Patient – Would be interesting to see this grouped too.

Those are just a few off the top of my head. I’m sure there are a hundred more that could be done with diagnosis, prescriptions, charges, procedures, referrals, etc etc etc. Which reports would you find interesting from the data in your EMR?

The best part of this all is that in the next couple weeks I have planned to upgrade my EMR from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005. That means that I could really easily use all th SQL Server BI tools to create the various BI reports with all the data in my EMR.

Has anyone else done this type of EMR reporting before?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Yup. Currently I work at MSFT in the BI and Reporting team for Customer Service and Support world wide. I helped implement the ’05 BI package on my mentor (CEO of 14 clinic systems site) in his EMR system. He uses it EXTENSIVELY.

    Because of my MSFT employee status, I’m able to play around in the 2010 package as well. Pretty amazing stuff coming out! If you like it now…Just wait until our release (in June I believe). We’ve come A LONG way!! Check out open source Vulcan compiler. You’ll love it.

    Feel free to ping me offline. for more.

  • Sounds cool Marie. I want to definitely learn more about the things you implemented in an EMR. I’ve sent you an email to learn more. Hopefully we can do a guest blog post about it or something.

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