DJO Global braces itself for data-driven insights

Profile picture for user jtwentyman By Jessica Twentyman March 27, 2018
The maker of orthopedic devices is using Birst's cloud-based business intelligence platform to bring together data from multiple systems for internal and external reporting.

DGO Global strap
As a manufacturer of orthopedic products for rehabilitation, pain management and physical therapy, DJO Global is pretty nimble when it comes to using technology in its stated mission to “get and keep people moving.”

For example, the company’s latest product, launched earlier this month, is a smart knee brace, X4, which uses sensors to track patient recovery following knee replacement surgery and connects to the cloud. It comes complete with a smartphone app for patients and an online portal for their doctors.

Another good example is the company’s MotionMD software-as-a-service (SaaS) application. Launched in June 2016, MotionMD provides physician practices, clinics and hospitals with a way to order products, dispense them to patients in compliance with medical guidelines, keep track of inventory and manage insurance-related tasks such as claims processing and reimbursements.

Today, the platform is used by more than 10,000 doctors at nearly 700 locations in the U.S., according to the company, and has been used to process more than one million patient agreements (in which a patient signs up to use a product) since its launch.

Introducing analytics

What has been lacking from MotionMD, until now, is reporting and analytic capabilities, but these will be introduced over the next few months, thanks to work that DJO Global has done on implementing Birst, the cloud-based business intelligence platform acquired by Infor in April 2017.

Basically, these capabilities will be embedded directly from Birst into MotionMD, enabling clinics to monitor trends in inventory levels and insurance claim processing times, among other things, as Chris Fitzharris, director of business intelligence and enterprise performance management at DJO Global explains:

MotionMD has been a big benefit to users already, because it automates a great deal of paperwork, allowing clinic staff to focus instead on patient care and patient outcomes. But what’s been lacking to date is the ability to interrogate the system, to ask questions and get broader insight into performance and that’s what we’re delivering with Birst. Users won’t know that they’re using Birst, because of the way that it’s been embedded, but they’ll certainly see the difference in terms of the amount of information and insight available to them.

This information, for example, will give them new insights on productivity, profitability and patient outcomes. They will also be able to identify profitability by insurance provider, practitioner or practice, he explains. These new capabilities have been successfully piloted with around 5 clinics and are now awaiting wider rollout, which Fitzharris predicts will likely happen before the end of April.

Internal reporting

However, the introduction of analytics into MotionMD is just one initiative that has sprung from DJO Global’s implementation of Birst. The platform is being used for a whole range of internal reporting initiatives too and brings together data from around six or seven corporate information systems from around the group’s complex business, which has grown through acquisition and encompasses multiple product lines and brands.

Data is fed into a Redshift data warehouse on Amazon Web Services and from there, aggregated data is subsequently fed into Birst. This, says Fitzharris, is the best way to deliver optimum performance to users for dashboards and reporting. But as those end users check dashboards and read reports, they can always drill down into AWS Redshift for more granular detail, if necessary, via a live connection running between Birst and Redshift.

One are in which this technology has already been put to work is in the effort to streamline business operations at the company and return it to profitability after years of losses. As Fitzharris explains:

So we’ve been focusing a lot on forecast accuracy, on how that compares to actual orders being generated and how efficient we are at fulfilling orders. It’s a kind of end-to-end analysis, which helps us to optimize our business.

A report in Birst showed that, in some cases, we were shipping products earlier than we needed to in terms of the SLA [service-level agreement] with a customer. Early delivery is great for customers, but what we found is that it can impact our ability to fulfil orders that come in later but have a shorter SLA window. What that could mean it that we could be shipping early to customers that don’t need a product, or at least not yet, and then be unable to deliver to a customer who does. If that’s happening, we need to know about it and that’s the sort of insight that Birst can give us, helping us to manage day-to-day questions around fulfilment.

Sales performance

Meanwhile, in the second quarter of the year, DJO Global is also going to be rolling out new sales performance capabilities, based on Birst, to its bracing and support business unit, the largest in the company. Fitzharris says:

There, we have around 400 sales reps and distribution partners who want to see their sales for the week, month and quarter and how the figures stack up against the targets set for them. They’ll all be using Birst going forward and that’s going to be huge in terms of improved visibility. Plus, these are people who are on the road, visiting physician practices and doctors in hospitals and Birst’s mobile capabilities are going to be a big advantage for them.

The same sales reps use Salesforce as their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, he says, so he and his team are looking to embed some of that sales performance reporting directly into Salesforce, in the same way that data is embedded into MotionMD.

But these initiatives are just stepping stones on the journey to deliver a much bigger vision at DJO Global, according to Fitzharris:

The real goal here is to become more of a data-driven organization and that’s very exciting for everyone involved, right up to our CEO, who has a ton of ideas on the kinds on the kind of executive reporting he’d like to see and that I know we can deliver with Birst.

So there’s plenty more work to do, not just continuing to develop the semantic layer in Birst and pushing more aggregated data up there, but also getting the business as a whole more educated on self-service analytics. With the right training, they can start to push the boundaries on data-driven insight and come up with their own ideas on what information they would like to explore, rather than simply relying on automated reporting.