Big Data in Health Care is Here: What’s Next for State Governments?

Date: November 8, 2013||   0  Comments


Krisa Tailor, is a Product Manager in SAS’ Health & Life Sciences Global Practice, responsible for the development of new health care offerings and global health care strategy. As a guest HITC contributor, Krisa discusses below SAS® Visual Analytics, for both the public and private health industry.

This year has been groundbreaking for big data in health care. From the launch of the health insurance exchanges (HIX), to the rapid activity around all-payer claims databases (APCDs), health care reform has prompted the emergence of new data in large volumes, unique varieties, and at a velocity like never before. One thing is for sure – there is no shortage of data; what’s lacking is the big data analytics necessary to bring value to the healthcare ecosystem.

APCDs set the stage for analytics
One state-sponsored initiative that is bringing analytics to the hands of health care stakeholders is the all-payer claims database (APCD). Motivated by the demands for health care price transparency, this year saw a splurge of APCD activity across the nation; not only did more states adopt legislation for or establish an APCD, but those with existing APCDs expanded their use of the database with advanced analytics.

Building an APCD is a great way to launch a state’s health care improvement efforts because claims data is the most structured type of health data available, and it provides the broadest view of how health care services are delivered. Collect all of the health care claims in the state and now you have a platform for analyzing cost, quality, accessibility, and utilization holistically. With robust infrastructure in place, APCDs can move quickly from simply a database to a tool for decision-making by stakeholders across the continuum of care.  Consumers, Medicaid and public health officials, private health care organizations, and others can benefit in a plethora of ways from the APCD.  With the use of big data analytics, APCD users can gain the insight and foresight necessary for population health, shared-savings models, accountable care, and more. These high-level use cases only scratch the surface of what’s possible.
See my white paper: All-Payer Claims Database: A Platform for Transparency and Innovation to learn more about the possibilities.

Think systems, not siloes
While a statewide view of health care costs provides tremendous value, we must think systemically about how data can be aggregated and analyzed to better understand how costs are related to quality and patient outcomes. With the growing amount of clinical data through HIEs, financial and demographic data in HIXs, and other data such as that of public health, APCDs can integrate these datasets to gain an even deeper understanding of the factors that contribute to the health of the state.

Therefore, state governments must establish an APCD infrastructure that is flexible and scalable; flexible to allow seamless transitions from legacy systems and other platforms, and scalable to facilitate the growth of data and the addition of different types of data over time. With modern IT systems in place to manage large amounts of health data and to quickly derive insight using high-performance analytics, states will be able to deliver on the expansive vision for APCD.

As transparency demands increase and APCDs grow and mature, they will transform into health information hubs for the states, serving as platforms for transparency and informed decision-making across the entire health care ecosystem. Thus, in designing our APCDs and other health data infrastructure, we should do so with big data analytics in mind, because that’s how our systems will deliver value both now and in the future.

Krisa Tailor is a Product Manager in SAS’ Health & Life Sciences Global Practice, responsible for the development of new health care offerings and global health care strategy. Her current work is focused on creating a product portfolio utilizing SAS® Visual Analytics, for both the public and private health industry. Tailor is passionate about the economics and politics of health services delivery and has engaged with US state governments extensively on data analytics needs pertaining to health reform. Her research interests include health care price transparency, policy diffusion, payment reform, and health data visualization.
You can read Tailor’s blog at, or contact her on Twitter at @krisatailor and LinkedIn at


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