Monday Oct 12, 2015

NHS Business Services Authority Gains Better Insight into Data, Identifies circa GBP100 Million (US$156 Million) in Potential Savings in Just Three Months

NHS Business Services Authority Gains Better Insight into Data, Identifies circa GBP100 Million (US$156 Million) in Potential Savings in Just Three Months

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) is a special health authority and an arm’s length body of the Department of Health for England. It provides a range of critical central services to NHS organizations, contractors, patients, and the public. Services include managing the NHS Pension schemes in England and Wales, managing payments to primary care dental and pharmacy contractors, and administering the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

The NHS budget for 2015/16 is approximately GBP116 billion (US$179 billion) and the total funds administered by the NHSBSA (including those for the NHS Pension schemes) amount to circa GBP32 billion (US$48 billion). The Department of Health asked the NHSBSA to take a proactive role to identify opportunities to reduce costs and eliminate waste. One way to do this was to find better ways to use the vast volumes of data already collected and held within the organization to help reduce fraud and error throughout the health service.

The NHSBSA needed a new, centralized solution that would enable it to gain better value from its data which is spread across a disparate set of IT systems, data, storage, and analytical capabilities. To achieve this, it chose an end-to-end Oracle solution including Oracle Advanced AnalyticsOracle Exadata Database MachineOracle Exalytics In-Memory MachineOracle Endeca Information Discovery, and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition.

With this Oracle solution, the NHSBSA established its Data Analytics Learning Laboratory (DALL), investing in both technology and expertise to create insight from its data. Within the first three months of operation, the organization identified circa GBP100 million (US$156 million) in potential savings.

Uncovering Savings in Dentistry

A word from NHS Business Services Authority

  • “Oracle Advanced Analytics’ data mining capabilities and Oracle Exalytics’ performance really impressed us. The overall solution is very fast, and our investment very quickly provided value. We can now do so much more with our data, resulting in significant savings for the NHS as a whole.” – Nina Monckton, Head of Information Services, NHS Business Services Authority

The NHSBSA used analytics to identify significant savings within NHS dental services and find instances of activities which do not demonstrate good value for money.

“With Oracle Advanced Analytics, it is much easier to detect anomalies in behaviors. We used anomaly detection to discover where there might be evidence of inappropriate behavior in dentists’ claims, enabling NHS commissioners to follow up and challenge their activities,” explained Nina Monckton, head of information services, NHSBSA.

Preventing Fraud for European Health Insurance Card

The EHIC is available to all European citizens covered by a statutory social security scheme and entitles them to free healthcare while visiting other European countries. 

During analysis of EHIC data, the NHSBSA discovered commercial addresses being used fraudulently to apply for EHIC cards and uncovered the use of invalid NHS and National Insurance numbers to apply for a card. 

“We used Oracle Exalytics and Oracle Business Intelligence for the EHIC application to improve the front-end validation process, prevent fraud, and blacklist addresses showing suspicious activities,” Monckton said.

Analyzing Billions of Records in Minutes

The NHSBSA receives data relating to more than one billion prescription items dispensed in primary care settings each year. Previously, the NHSBSA did not have the computing power to analyze this data at transaction level.

The NHSBSA can now analyze billions of records at one time, and by analyzing much larger sets of patient data, the NHSBSA can provide insight that is helping to improve standards of care throughout the health service.

“Previously, our information analysts did not have the ability to directly query data as it was mainly held in live operational systems. Now that we are able to transfer data to our Exadata environment, we have dramatically improved our ability to deliver value from our data,” Monckton said.

Analyzing Unstructured Text to Measure Satisfaction

Improving Data Matching To Save Millions of Dollars

In England, some people are entitled to free medical prescriptions or dental treatment from the NHS. The NHSBSA works with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to establish that those patients declaring that they are exempt from a charge for dental treatment and/or medical prescriptions are claiming correctly. Using Oracle Exalytics to compare datasets, the NHSBSA reduced the rate of non-matching records for dentistry from 15% to just 5%.

The Role of Data Governance

Data is now moving to the heart of all NHSBSA programs. As a result of the organization’s new analytics capability, teams have a better understanding of what they can do with the data and are more careful about what data they collect. 

“We now know that if we collect the right data at the start of a program, we can measure what is working down the line. We are starting to change the culture of the organization around our data governance. There has been a massive shift. Data is now central to all our new programs, and data governance is at the heart of everything we do,” Monckton said.

Using the Data Analytics Learning Laboratory to Achieve Strategic Goals

The NHSBSA’s data analytics investment is helping the organization to achieve its 5 year strategic goals, which include helping to save GBP1 billion (US$1.56 billion) for NHS patients, reducing unit costs by 50%, improving service and delivering great results for customers, and deriving insight from data to drive change.

“With our newly established Data Lab in place, we can add even more value to the NHS. I cannot begin to describe how significant that has been. This project is really helping us to achieve our strategic goals. In addition, we are working in a different way now and it has even helped with how people interact and function in the workplace.

“We’ve had a very positive response, and our chief executive is extremely impressed with our achievements and the results we have shown so far. As a result, management is recommending that our suppliers and partners come to see what we are doing to learn from our experiences,” Monckton said.

Over the next six months, the DALL team has a large number of analytics projects in the pipeline and is looking to help other areas of the business to better leverage their data. The organization will focus on how it can use Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition with business users. In addition, the NHSBSA is investigating how it might share data and its analytical ability with other government organizations to drive further value from its investment.


  • Use new insight gathered from data to help identify cost savings and meet NHSBSA strategic goals
  • Identify and prevent healthcare fraud and benefit eligibility errors to save costs
  • Leverage existing data to transform business and productivity


Oracle Product and Services

  • Identified up to GBP100 million (US$156 million) that could potentially be saved across the NHS through benefit fraud and error reduction, by deploying new analytics infrastructure
  • Identified and implemented changes to prevent fraudulent European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) applications
  • Used data matching to identify savings that can be made through the recovery of money from patients claiming exemption from charges for dental treatment or prescriptions when not eligible to do so
  • Used anomaly detection to uncover fraudulent activity where some dentists split a single course of treatment into multiple parts and presented claims for multiple treatments
  • Analyzed unstructured text to measure employee satisfaction in more detail and found a direct link between those who felt less engaged at work and those more likely to take time off sick
  • Analyzed billions of records at one time to measure longer-term patient journeys and to analyze drug prescribing patterns to improve patient care
  • Established a new Data Analytics Learning Laboratory (DALL) that uses data and analytics to drive action and significant savings for the NHS
  • Implemented Oracle Advanced Analytics, Oracle Exadata Database Machine, Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine, Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition to deliver fast analysis and data mining for NHS and wider government departments

Why Oracle

“We chose Oracle because the solution could cope with very large data volumes running into billions of rows and could scale as volumes increase. In addition, the Oracle solution required no IT team support to run the queries, which enables our team of data analysts to be self-sufficient. Oracle Exalytics’ in-memory capability gave us the speed we required, and Oracle’s engineered systems accelerated deployment and reduced risk.

“Working with Oracle has been a very positive experience. The team has been incredibly responsive and provided a number of experts to help us get up and running as quickly as possible. With one vendor providing the whole solution, it’s very easy for us. If we need help, we know where to go,” Monckton said.

Implementation Process

Oracle ran a proof of concept (POC) to show the speed and capability of the proposed end-to-end solution. The POC used publically available data sets for NHS prescription data. It covered 50 million prescribed items, 300 million records, and six months of data. The team concentrated on finding anomalies in the data and carrying out further analysis to understand them before presenting the findings in a clear and straightforward way.

Following the POC, Oracle worked with NHSBSA and its data center partner, Capita, to complete the implementation. During implementation, Oracle provided the NHSBSA with access to a virtual environment. This enabled the team to get some experience with the tools before completing the implementation. As such, NHSBSA was familiar and confident with using the new analytics tools from day one, saving considerable time and gaining immediate value.

NHSBSA identified which data it should use for analysis and transferred it across to its Oracle Exadata environment. To date it has transferred more than 15 billion rows of data into Oracle Exadata. The prescription services database with 14 billion rows of data is the largest exported data source using 400 gigabytes. The export took 10 hours to complete with Oracle as the source database. 

Advice from NHSBSA

  • Have a clear plan for the first six months before you begin your implementation
  • Ensure you have buy-in from key stakeholders
  • Choose easy areas to start with, so you can demonstrate positive results quickly and prove the value of the solution to others
  • Build knowledge within your team through training and Oracle events; this helps staff to think differently about the possibilities of using data
  • Get help from the experts: talk to your existing suppliers, go to analytics events, and talk to other organizations who have implemented analytics
  • It’s never too early to think about data governance and data quality: recruit a data standards manager to create data governance policies and identify data leads around the business


Wednesday Jul 15, 2015

Call for Abstracts at BIWA Summit'16 - The Oracle Big Data + Analytics User Conference

Please email with any questions regarding the submission process.

What Successes Can You Share?

We want to hear your story. Submit your proposal today for the Oracle BIWA Summit 2016.

Proposals will be accepted through Monday evening, November 2, 2015, at midnight, EST. Don’t wait, though—we’re accepting submissions on a rolling basis, so that selected sessions can be published early on our online agenda.

To submit your abstract, click here, select a track, fill out the form.

Please note:

  • Presentations must be noncommercial.
  • Sales promotions for products or services disguised as proposals will be eliminated. 
  • Speakers whose abstracts are accepted will be expected to submit (at a later date) a PowerPoint presentation slide set. 
  • Accompanying technical and use case papers are encouraged, but not required.

Speakers whose abstracts are accepted will be given a complimentary registration to the conference. (Any additional co-presenters must register for the event separately and provide appropriate registration fees. It is up to the co-presenters’ discretion which presenter to designate for the complimentary registration.) 

This Year’s Tracks

Proposals can be submitted for the following tracks: 

More About the Conference

The Oracle BIWA Summit 2016 is organized and managed by the Oracle BIWA SIG, the Oracle Spatial SIG, and the Oracle Northern California User Group. The event attracts top BI, data warehousing, analytics, Spatial, IoT and Big Data experts.

The three-day event includes keynotes from industry experts, educational sessions, hands-on labs, and networking events.

Hot topics include: 

  • Database, data warehouse and cloud, Big Data architecture
  • Deep dives and hands-on labs on existing Oracle BI, data warehouse, and analytics products
  • Updates on the latest Oracle products and technologies (e.g. Big Data Discovery, Oracle Visual Analyzer, Oracle Big Data SQL)
  • Novel and interesting use cases on everything – Spatial, Graph, Text, Data Mining, IoT, ETL, Security, Cloud
  • Working with Big Data (e.g., Hadoop, "Internet of Things,” SQL, R, Sentiment Analysis)
  • Oracle Business Intelligence (OBIEE), Oracle Big Data Discovery, Oracle Spatial, and Oracle Advanced Analytics—Better Together

Hope to see you at BIWA'16 in January, 2016!


Thursday Nov 20, 2014


Please share with your Oracle BI, DW, Analytics, big Data and Spatial User coMMUNITY.   THANKS.  CB

BIWA Summit’15 Jan 27-29, 2015 Early Bird Registration Ends Friday. 

Registration is now LIVE. Register by November 21st (tomorrow) to receive the early bird pricing of $249 and save $50.

Please direct your colleagues to REGISTER NOW and participate to take advantage of the Early Bird registration ($249.00 USD).  EARLY BIRD SPECIAL ENDS TOMORROW (Friday, Nov. 21).  Here’s some information about the event below and some pics and talks from last year to give some feel for the opportunity.   

BIWA Summits have been organized and managed by the Oracle BI, DW and Analytics SIG user community of IOUG (Independent Oracle User Group) and attract the top Oracle BI, DW and Advanced Analytics and Big Data experts. The 2.5-day BIWA Summit'15 event joins forces with the Oracle Spatial SIG and involves Keynotes by Industry experts, Educational sessions, Hands-on Labs and networking events. We have a great line up so far w/ Tom Kyte Senior Technical Architect in Oracles Server Technology, Doug Cutting (Chief Architect, Cloudera), Oracle BI Senior Management, Neil Mendelson, VP of Product Management Big Data and Advanced Analytics, Matt Bradley, SVP, Oracle Product Development, EPM Applications, other features speakers, and many customers/tech experts (see web site and search % Sessions). Our BIWA Summit offers a broad, multi-track user driven conference that has built up a growing reputation over the years. We emphasize technical content and networking with like minded customers, users, developers, product managers (Database, Big Data Appliance, Oracle Advanced Analytics, Spatial, OBIEE, Endeca, Big Data Discovery, In-Memory, SQL Patterns, etc.), etc. who all share an interest in “novel and interesting use cases” of Oracle BI, DW, Advanced Analytics and Spatial technologies, applications and solutions. We’re off to a great start this year with a great agenda and hope to pack the HQ CC this Jan 27-29, 2015 with 300+ attendees.

Please forward and share with your Oracle BI, DW, Analytics, Big Data and Spatial colleagues.   

Thank you!  Hope to see you at BIWA Summit'15


Tuesday Nov 12, 2013

Oracle Big Data Learning Library

Click on LEARN BY PRODUCT to view all learning resources.

Oracle Big Data Essentials

Attend this Oracle University Course!

Using Oracle NoSQL Database

Attend this Oracle University class!

Oracle and Big Data on OTN

See the latest resource on OTN.

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Wednesday Apr 04, 2012

Recorded YouTube-like presentation and "live" demos of Oracle Advanced Analytics/Oracle Data Mining

Ever want to just sit and watch a YouTube-like presentation and "live" demos of Oracle Advanced Analytics/Oracle Data Mining?  Then click here! (plays large MP4 file in a browser)

This 1+ hour long session focuses primarily on the Oracle Data Mining component of the Oracle Advanced Analytics Option and is tied to the Oracle SQL Developer Days virtual and onsite events.   I cover:

  • Big Data + Big Data Analytics
  • Competing on analytics & value proposition
  • What is data mining?
  • Typical use cases
  • Oracle Data Mining high performance in-database SQL based data mining functions
  • Exadata "smart scan" scoring
  • Oracle Data Miner GUI (an Extension that ships with SQL Developer)
  • Oracle Business Intelligence EE + Oracle Data Mining results/predictions in dashboards
  • Applications "powered by Oracle Data Mining for factory installed predictive analytics methodologies
  • Oracle R Enterprise

Please contact should you have any questions.  Hope you enjoy! 

Charlie Berger, Sr. Director of Product Management, Oracle Data Mining & Advanced Analytics, Oracle Corporation

Tuesday Aug 09, 2011

SAIL-WORLD article - America's Cup: Oracle Data Mining supports crew and BMW ORACLE Racing

Originally printed at

America's Cup: Oracle Data Mining supports crew and BMW ORACLE Racing

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'USA-17 on her way to winning the 33rd America’s Cup, use of Oracle’s datamining technology and Oracle Database 11g and Oracle Application Express'    BMW Oracle Racing © Photo Gilles Martin-Raget    Click Here to view large photo

BMW ORACLE Racing won the 33rd America’s Cup yacht race in February 2010, beating the Swiss team, Alinghi, decisively in the first two races of the best-of-three contest.

BMW ORACLE Racing’s victory in the America’s Cup challenge was a lesson in sailing skill, as one of the world’s most experienced crews reached speeds as fast as 30 knots. But if you listen to the crew in their postrace interviews, you’ll notice that what they talk about is technology.

The wrist PDA displays worn by five of the USA-17 crew - where they could read actual and predictive data fed back from the onboard systems -  .. .   Click Here to view large photo

'The story of this race is in the technology,' says Ian Burns, design coordinator for BMW ORACLE Racing.

From the drag-resistant materials encasing its hulls to its unprecedented 223-foot wing sail, the BMW ORACLE Racing’s trimaran, named USA, is a one-of-a-kind technological juggernaut. No less impressive are the electronics used to guide the vessel and fine-tune its performance.

Each crewmember is equipped with a PDA on his wrist that has customized data for his job: what the load balance is on a particular rope, for example, or the current aerodynamic performance of the wing sail. The helmsman’s sunglasses display graphical and numeric data to help him fine-tune the boat’s direction while he keeps two hands on the wheel and visually scans the sea, the boat, the crew, the sails, and the wing.

The America’s Cup is a challenge-based competition in which the winning yacht club hosts the next event and, within certain guidelines, makes the rules. For the 33rd America’s Cup, the competing teams could not agree on a set of rules, so the event defaulted to an unrestricted format for boat design and cost.

'All we knew were the length of the boat and the course configuration,' says Burns. The boats were allowed a maximum length of 90 feet, and the course would be 20 miles out windward and 20 miles back. 'Within those parameters,' says Burns, 'you could build as fast a thing as you can think of.'

Learning by Data

The no-holds-barred rules for this race created what Burns calls an 'open playground' for boat designers. The innovative and costly vessels that resulted were one-of-a-kind creations with unpredictable sailing characteristics that would require a steep learning curve and lots of data.

33rd America’s Cup - BMW ORACLE Racing - Training in Valencia - collecting data via 250 sensors, managing it and analysing it were handled on the yacht, on the tender and ashore in Valencia and in the Austin Data Centre, USA. -  BMW Oracle Racing © Photo Gilles Martin-Raget   Click Here to view large photo

'One of the problems we faced at the outset was that we needed really high accuracy in our data because we didn’t have two boats,' says Burns. 'Generally, most teams have two boats, and they sail them side by side. Change one thing on one boat, and it’s fairly easy to see the effect of a change with your own eyes.'

With only one boat, BMW ORACLE Racing’s performance analysis had to be done numerically by comparing data sets. To get the information needed, says Burns, the team had to increase the amount of data collected by nearly 40 times what they had done in the past.

The USA holds 250 sensors to collect raw data: pressure sensors on the wing; angle sensors on the adjustable trailing edge of the wing sail to monitor the effectiveness of each adjustment, allowing the crew to ascertain the amount of lift it’s generating; and fiber-optic strain sensors on the mast and wing to allow maximum thrust without overbending them.

33rd America’s Cup - BMW ORACLE Racing - Day 1 - The difference between the wingsail and softsail is evident - even though the softsail has more area -  BMW Oracle Racing: Guilain Grenier   Click Here to view large photo

But collecting data was only the beginning. BMW ORACLE Racing also had to manage that data, analyze it, and present useful results. The team turned to Oracle Data Mining in Oracle Database 11g.

Peter Stengard, a principal software engineer for Oracle Data Mining and an amateur sailor, became the liaison between the database technology team and BMW ORACLE Racing. 'Ian Burns contacted us and explained that they were interested in better understanding the performance-driving parameters of their new boat,' says Stengard. 'They were measuring an incredible number of parameters across the trimaran, collected 10 times per second, so there were vast amounts of data available for analysis. An hour of sailing generates 90 million data points.'

After each day of sailing the boat, Burns and his team would meet to review and share raw data with crewmembers or boat-building vendors using a Web application built with Oracle Application Express. 'Someone in the meeting would say, 'Wouldn’t it be great if we could look at some new combination of numbers?’ and we could quickly build an Oracle Application Express application and share the information during the same meeting,' says Burns. Later, the data would be streamed to Oracle’s Austin Data Center, where Stengard and his team would go to work on deeper analysis.

BMW Oracle USA-17 powers thru Alinghi - America’s Cup 2010 Race 1 -  BMW Oracle Racing © Photo Gilles Martin-Raget   Click Here to view large photo

Because BMW ORACLE Racing was already collecting its data in an Oracle database, Stengard and his team didn’t have to do any extract, transform, and load (ETL) processes or data conversion. 'We could just start tackling the analytics problem right away,' says Stengard. 'We used Oracle Data Mining, which is in Oracle Database. It gives us many advanced data mining algorithms to work with, so we have freedom in how we approach any specific task.'

Using the algorithms in Oracle Data Mining, Stengard could help Burns and his team learn new things about how their boat was working in its environment. 'We would look, for example, at mast rotations—which rotation works best for certain wind conditions,' says Stengard. 'There were often complex relationships within the data that could be used to model the effect on the target—in this case something called velocity made good, or VMG. Finding these relationships is what the racing team was interested in.'

BMW Oracle Racing Technology team -  Richard Gladwell   Click Here to view large photo

Stengard and his team could also look at data over time and with an attribute selection algorithm to determine which sensors provided the most-useful information for their analysis. 'We could identify sensors that didn’t seem to be providing the predictive power they were looking for so they could change the sensor location or add sensors to another part of the boat,' Stengard says.

Burns agrees that without the data mining, they couldn’t have made the boat run as fast. 'The design of the boat was important, but once you’ve got it designed, the whole race is down to how the guys can use it,' he says. 'With Oracle database technology, we could compare our performance from the first day of sailing to the very last day of sailing, with incremental improvements the whole way through. With data mining we could check data against the things we saw, and we could find things that weren’t otherwise easily observable and findable.'

BMW Oracle Racing made 4000 data measurements 10 times a second -  BMW Oracle Racing: Guilain Grenier   Click Here to view large photo

Flying by Data

The greatest challenge of this America’s Cup, according to Burns, was managing the wing sail, which had been built on an unprecedented scale. 'It is truly a massive piece of architecture,' Burns says. 'It’s 20 stories high; it barely fits under the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s an amazing thing to see.'

The wing sail is made of an aeronautical fabric stretched over a carbon fiber frame, giving it the three-dimensional shape of a regular airplane wing. Like an airplane wing, it has a fixed leading edge and an adjustable trailing edge, which allows the crew to change the shape of the sail during the course of a race.

Oracle wing under maintenance - standing 70 metres high it is the longest wing ever build for a plane or yacht -  Jean Philippe Jobé   Click Here to view large photo

Next Steps

'The crew of the USA was the best group of sailors in the world, but they were used to working with sails,' says Burns, 'Then we put them under a wing. Our chief designer, Mike Drummond, told them an airline pilot doesn’t look out the window when he’s flying the plane; he looks at his instruments, and you guys have to do the same thing.'

A second ship, known as the performance tender, accompanied the USA on the water. The tender served in part as a floating datacenter and was connected to the USA by wireless LAN.

USA-17 about to round the windward mark, Race 1, 33rd America’s Cup. Under performing senors on the boat were moved to provide better information. -  Richard Gladwell  

'The USA generates almost 4,000 variables 10 times a second,' says Burns. 'Sometimes the analysis requires a very complicated combination of 10, 20, or 30 variables fitted through a time-based algorithm to give us predictions on what will happen in the next few seconds, or minutes, or even hours in terms of weather analysis.'

Like the deeper analysis that Stengard does back at the Austin Data Center, this real-time data management and near-real-time data analysis was done in Oracle Database 11g. 'We could download the data to servers on the tender ship, do some quick analysis, and feed it right back to the USA,' says Burns.

'We started to do better when the guys began using the instruments,' Burns says. 'Then we started to make small adjustments against the predictions and started to get improvements, and every day we were making gains.'

Those gains were incremental and data driven, and they accumulated over years—until the USA could sail at three times the wind speed. Ian Burns is still amazed by the spectacle.

'It’s an awesome thing to watch,' he says. 'Even with all we have learned, I don’t think we have met the performance limits of that beautiful wing.'

USA-17 pursues Alinghi 5 - Race 1, 33rd America’s Cup, Valencia. Her crew flew her off the instruments 'a pilot doesn’t fly a plane by looking out the window'. -  BMW Oracle Racing: Guilain Grenier   Click Here to view large photo

Read more about Oracle Data Mining

Hear a podcast interview with Ian Burns

Download Oracle Database 11g Release 2

Story republished from:

by Jeff Erickson Share   11:41 PM Sat 24 Apr 2010 GMT


Everything about Oracle Data Mining, a component of the Oracle Advanced Analytics Option - News, Technical Information, Opinions, Tips & Tricks. All in One Place


« November 2015