“How Can We Get Ahead of That?”
or Analytics as a Superpower
By Dale Dauten, Syndicated Columnist
“Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the web like deer on a freeway.” Geoffrey Moore
Ah, yes, it is the Age of Analytics. That follows the Dawn of Data and the Season of Statistics, so this a particularly good time to be a numbers-person. On the other hand, you go into fields like public health or pharmacy or nursing because you’re a people-person. However, maybe this could be the promise of analytics: better numbers make you a better people-person.
Take the work of Antonio Vega, who isn’t just a numbers-person, he holds a Master’s degree in Business Analytics and manages STChealth’s new Analytics team. Said another way, analytics is his superpower.
We spoke with JoLynn Coleman, a pharmacist who leads the immunization effort within the company’s Pharmacy Clinical Services. She explained one of their uses of vax data:
“We’ve been working with Antonio for a year on a new dashboard. The dashboard now shows ‘shots per encounter.’ That tells a pharmacist, Here’s the national level, here’s yours, and here are the others in your market.’
“There can be a big difference in shots-per-encounter among stores. And what we see happening is that a pharmacist will notice who’s the top performer in the market and call that store and say, ‘What are you doing?’ And they talk about best practices.”
She also explained an emerging success for better data — series completions. Using Shringrix as an example, JoLynn said,
“STC pulls a report that indicates patients who are Due or Past Due. We use that data to flow allocated product into the right stores based on patient needs.
“Going forward, the stores will use the new dashboard data to easily identify those patients due for their second dose, to focus on completion of the series, not just for Shingrix bur for all series vaccines.
“The more time spent doing manual paperwork, the less time you have to provide patient care.”
Antonio recently met with a number of state public health officials who are users of vaccination data, and came away with this impression: “It opened my eyes to learn how much is being done manually. Some of the state people are spending two weeks every quarter assembling reports. This is data that could have been assembled in a few keystrokes, freeing them up to do more important work.”
Some of that important work would be using data in a better way: Antonio told us:
“The way the data is being used now is looking back — at the end of a period you look back to see how you did. But analytic tools allow you to be progressive, to see what’s happening as it happens and to figure out, How can we can ahead of this?”
Asked for an example, Antonio mentioned the IISAR Dashboard (that’s the Immunization Information Systems Annual Report, the CDC’s annual assessment tool). “There are key metrics that each state has to report in order to apply for certain grants. For instance, one standard is that 90% of vaccines need to be recorded within one day. You can wait till the end of a period and see if you made it, or using the dashboard, you have data updated every night on how you’re doing, and you can immediately spot any issue with reaching the 90% threshold by breaking down the data by age or geography or other specifics.”
Sounds like a superpower, doesn’t it?
Meet Antonio Vega
Antonio Vega spent his career working with medical data, first with a company doing managed care for Medicaid, then with an EHR company and now with STChealth. “Why medical data?” we wondered. “I’m married to a pediatrician,” he explained, “and I figured I’m always going to be living near a hospital.”
That now means living near Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where his wife is a “pediatric hematology oncologist.” When I asked if that meant what I thought it meant, working with kids with blood cancers, Antonio nodded and said, “Yeah, her rough days a lot different than my rough days.” You can see where he might get a passion for using data to improve medical outcomes.
Vax Stats of the Month
Immunization Genealogy: Tracking Immunization Beliefs and Practice
by Bill Davenhall, Geomedicine Analyst, STC Health Analytics (Bill_Davenhall@stchome.com)
Improving immunization coverage rates is a never-ending ambition of most health care professionals, especially those who serve large numbers of children and seniors. State immunization programs are challenged each year, not only to immunize more people, but re-discover children and adults that missed a needed immunization. Recent reports published by the CDC conclude that understanding the great variability (34% – 81%) in coverage rates from state to state for children and adults is still a significant challenge to reaching national immunization goals.
Understanding personal geographical migration patterns might offer some insights about how individuals value immunizations. For example, 73% of Nevada’s current population of 3 million moved to Nevada from somewhere else, either another state or a foreign county. On the other hand, only 17% of Louisiana’s 2018 population of 5 million moved into the state from somewhere else. In both examples, a sizable number of people might hold differing perspectives on the value of immunizations.
If you are curious about the geographical “roots” of the people in your state, we have prepared a table (PDF) that you can request from STChealth Analytics by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The map below shows the percent (range) of population within each State that was not born in that specific state. Percentages range from 17% to 72%.
Sources: United Census Bureau, American Community Survey (2018) Table 1, State of Residency by State of Birth 2018; US CDC, Flu Vaccination Coverage, United States, 2018-2019 Influenza Season, September 26, 2019; STChealth Analytics 2019 and Scan\US map.