Healthcare Analytics: Transformation & Innovation for the Public Good

Carnegie Mellon University’s H. John Heinz III College recently partnered with IBM’s Institute for Electronic Government to present Healthcare Analytics: Transformation & Innovation for the Public Good, a workshop that focused on the use of data analytics in the health care industry to improve clinical quality, operational efficiency and patient safety.

The event, which was held at IBM’s Analytics Solution Center in Washington, DC, featured presentations by experts from Heinz College and IBM. The first session, conducted by Heinz College professor Amelia Haviland and IBM’s Ching-hua Chen-ritzo, offered information on consumer behaviors and response to economic incentives.

Martin Gaynor, a professor of economics and health policy for Heinz College, and Basit Chaudhry, a medical scientist for IBM, then discussed analytics from the perspective of the health care provider. Gaynor and Chaudhry provided an in-depth look at how analytics and technology impact the cost of supplying health services both now and in the future.

“There is a lot of spending in health care that doesn’t generate as much value as it costs,” said Gaynor, who was recently named the chairman of the governing board for the newly launched Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI). “There is potential for tremendous gain, but the question is how we get from here to there, and this is the promise of analytics.”

Gaynor cautioned that applying data analytics to the health care industry doesn’t necessarily equate to lower costs; rather, the analysis of big data can provide insights that will allow for the more effective targeting of financial resources.

“It’s possible that by improving the quality of care, we may raise costs,” Gaynor said. “The question is what we’re getting for that additional spending.”

The workshop concluded with presentations by Heinz College healthcare professor Rema Padman and IBM’s Pawan Khera and Jimeng Sun, both CMU graduates, on the application of predictive modeling in a health care context. The conversation began with an observation made by legendary CMU faculty member, Herbert A. Simon, who theorized in 1971 that a wealth of data would lead to the scarcity of another resource — the consumer’s attention. Underpinning this concept, the presenters demonstrated how analytics can be used to anticipate the probability of certain outcomes and use that information to design and deliver cost-effective health care solutions amidst a flood of noise.

Welcoming remarks were provided by Giovanna Patterson, vice-president and federal healthcare industry leader for IBM. Patterson is responsible for the growth, and overall management of the Health and Human Services (HHS) accounts to include such accounts as CMS, VA, Military Health, FDA, NIH and CDC.

Heinz College at CMU has long been a leader in education and research focused on the integration of cutting edge information and analytic technology practices with applied business methods. The College recently launched the Master of Information Systems Management degree with a Business Intelligence and Data Analytics concentration (MISM-BIDA) to develop an elite set of graduates cross-trained in business process analysis and skilled in predictive modeling, GIS mapping, analytical reporting, segmentation analysis, and data visualization.

The IBM Analytics Solution Center is part of a network of global analytics centers that provides clients with the analytics expertise to help them solve their toughest challenges. The ASC is available to help public sector customers understand how analytics can help solve their business problems.