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Kean and Emory Introduce Students to Data Mining

Two universities--Kean University in Union, NJ and Emory University in Atlanta, GA--have gone public with their use of Datawatch's Monarch data mining software to teach students how to perform business intelligence work.

Kean professor Beth Brilliant introduced Monarch to graduate students of her accounting information systems (AIS) and auditing information system classes.

"I have been using Monarch for years as a [certified public accountant] and swear by it," said Brilliant. "For example, I use Monarch to quickly find any bank discrepancies. As I work for a law firm with client trust accounts, this is extremely important, as all accounts must balance to the penny. I am able to reconcile all the accounts in minutes thanks to Monarch, picking up differences in checks from pennies to hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Brilliant added, "My department has also become more efficient with the use of Monarch, saving hours by importing data into the accounting system electronically vs. manually. Reports that I receive from vendors are saved as PDF files, which are mined using Monarch. The data is then extracted and imported into our accounting system. This not only saves time but it removes the risk of manual data input errors."

"I rely on Monarch to ensure data quality and to ensure I know exactly where company data is coming from, with no need to rely on the company's accounting and IT departments," she explained. "Monarch is an excellent resource for auditors and accountants, and well worth including Monarch within my AIS coursework."

Robert Gross teaches a graduate course on managing healthcare databases at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory. The course is part of the curriculum for the university's master of public health degree.

"Most of my students are physicians and other working healthcare providers, middle managers and public health agency leaders," said Gross. "The students are non-technical, yet must understand how to independently gather, sift, sort, and work effectively with public and private healthcare information sources. We address issues including effective data access strategies, how to ensure data quality, comply fully with HIPAA, and actively work with healthcare data using Excel, Access, and several statistical analysis products."

Many public sources offer their healthcare data in a database-friendly format, "but many other agencies do not," he said. "Data might be available in the form of text or PDF formatted reports. Students also typically discover that extracting data from healthcare information systems is especially difficult. This is where Monarch plays a very valuable role in the course work."

Gross said his students understand the basics of report mining using Monarch, including trapping, working with mined data, and exporting it to other applications. "My students manage their own database projects. They soon discover they frequently need Monarch to complete their projects, particularly to extract data from existing healthcare information system reports, including patient accounting reports, electronic medical records (EMRs) and much more."

"The ... goal of the course is to empower students with skills to get at healthcare data themselves and not rely on database programmers or other often limited IT resources," Gross said. "My students complete the course with self-sufficiency, acquiring and working with healthcare data. Monarch can be easily learned by non-technical healthcare professionals to get otherwise complex data access problems solved very quickly."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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