Illinois to build data warehouse for medical aid

Illinois Gov. George Ryan (R) announced last week that the state will build a data warehouse system for the Illinois Department of Public Aid to manage the state's $6 billion medical assistance programs.

"We're replacing an old, fixed-schedule system with one that provides rapid access to information," said Ann Patla, director of the DPA. "This will be a more flexible system that's user-friendly and responsive to inquiries as opposed to producing static reports periodically.

The DPA will use the system to administer its Medicaid and KidCare programs, which provide health coverage to nearly 1.4 million people each month. The department processes more than 25 million medical claims per year and tracks nearly 50,000 medical providers.

The department contracted Bull Worldwide Information Systems, Billerica, Mass., for the $28 million data warehouse, which will go live next year. Bull operates similar systems in Michigan and Minnesota and will provide software, hardware and services to build the data warehouse.

Patla said the new system will be especially useful for detecting and preventing abuse of programs and fraud, as well as in the rate-setting aspect of the medical programs. The warehouse also will streamline the process of responding to legislative inquiries, federal requests for information and annual reports.

"Through the data warehouse we'll know exactly who did what, when and with what rates," Patla said. "This implementation has tremendous benefits for the people in Illinois."

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