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Business Intelligence Gets Smarter

Rapid innovation in this software sector is putting useful data at the fingertips of executives, workers -- even customers

In a pilot program O.K.'d by the State of New York, suburban Rockland County announced earlier this year that it had uncovered $13 million in improper Medicaid claims made over a 21-month period. Because the problems were discovered before the reimbursements were made, Rockland saved itself the headaches it would have faced if it had paid out the money first and asked questions later.

The credit goes not to a crew of hard-working sleuths but to search and analysis software created by IBM (IBM) that automatically sorted through thousands of forms, plucked out key bits of information, and sized them up against Medicaid rules. Government officials believe that if the program were to be applied statewide it could deliver $3.8 billion in savings per year. "This may change the Medicaid industry in New York," says Rockland County Supervisor C. Scott Vanderhoef.