Panel Query in TouchWorks promised to make all the clinical data accessible to the everyday provider. Anyone could just pop into Panel Query, write a “query” based on an easy-to-use interface. No need to know SQL or any programming. And to protect the system, the queries were to be scheduled, presumably overnight.
TouchWorks largely delivered on this promise. Panel Query certainly delivered on the first part – anyone who is already using TouchWorks, can easily build usable reports with no technical/SQL background. Panel Query does not make every piece of information available, but it’s a great start. The problem lies in the execution of the query. First there is the performance aspect (Panel Query can really be a drag on your TouchWorks system’s performance), you also need to schedule the report, then the results come back as a patient list, which can be difficult to work from.
Performance is enough of an issue for most TouchWorks clients, adding queries that hit the system hard definitely won’t help things! Most practices can allow queries to run during the night, but Panel Query doesn’t enforce this – it allows you to schedule queries whenever you’d like. Other practices, say those with 24/7 urgent care clinics, cannot afford to have queries running during the night.
I worked with a group recently who had a copy of their production TouchWorks database (refreshed regularly) on their data warehouse server. They came up with an idea — could TouchWorks be setup to overcome the issues they had with Panel Query. Could Panel Query:
- Point to their data warehouse
- Make the results available in an Excel spreadsheet
- Execute immediately – take out the additional steps of creating a job and scheduling it.
We’ve done all three, now anyone with access to Panel Query, can run queries while they are logged in to their production TouchWorks system (Panel Query then re-points to the data warehouse) any time of day and get their results back immediately.
I bring it up as it was a fun project that I really enjoyed working on. That’s all. What other projects have you folks worked on? Any ideas for other projects like this that you haven’t done?