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Mathematica Hosts Forum: Advanced Analytics for Better Decision Making

Mathematica250x79On May 20 at their Washington, DC offices Mathematica's Center for Improving Research Evidence (CIRE) hosted the research forum and webinar, Improving Public Programs: Advanced Analytics for Better Decision Making to discuss how advanced analytics can help policymakers, program administrators, and direct services staff enhance their programs by providing rapid, reliable, and relevant information. 

Topics included:

  • An overview of advanced data science
  • The value of high quality analytics in public-sector decision making
  • Examples of advanced analytics
  • The future of advanced analytics

Ann Person, senior researcher and director of the Center for Improving Research Evidence (CIRE) made welcome and opening remarks.

The forum and webinar consisted of 3 panels of experts and data scientists.

Panel 1: Introduction to Advanced Analytics

Presenters:

  • Myles Maxfield, director corporate data analytics initiative, Mathematica Policy Research
  • Niall Brennan, Chief Data Officer and Director of the Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics (OEDA), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

Myles Maxfield addressed the question of advanced analytics, what it is and why it's important. He began his presentation by defining the term "basic analytics." He stated that, "analytics provides decision support in near-real time. Its metrics are linked directly to decisions. It allows for descriptive data to be presented accessibly. Graphically it allows the researcher to understand the analytic findings at a glance."

He then examined the question of what advanced analytics is and what it can do. He stated that it can:

  • Forecast performance
  • Predict an outcome variable that is not observed
  • Generate a hypothesis, as opposed to testing a hypothesis
  • Make rapid-cycle experimentation possible

Niall Brennan of CMS providing examples of the use of advanced analytics in the health care sector focused on the importance of quality in analytics for public programs. He stated that, "advanced analytics can aid in predicting fraud and abuse now that payment amounts are determined by both claims and quality data."

He said that advanced analytics are helpful to program staffers in helping them to:

  • Forecast a state's Medicaid budget a year in the future by predicting the service use of beneficiaries
  • Improve patient compliance by combining electronic health records (EHR) data with social media and web search data to give patients individualized technical assistance
  • Measure the effectiveness of outreach to beneficiaries about a new program, and predict the number who will sign up by analyzing social media and web searches
  • Conduct rapid-cycle experiments with alternative approaches to hospital discharge planning

Panel 2: Analytics in Action

Moderator:
Stuart Buck, vice president of research integrity, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation

Panelists:

  • Jeffrey Ballou, associate director of health research, and assistant director of the Center on Health Care Effectiveness, Mathematica Policy Research
  • David Weaver, Associate Commissioner for Research Demonstration and Employment Support (ORDES), Social Security Administration
  • Irma Perez-Johnson, Mathematica Policy Research

The group of panelists discussed analytics in action and focused on the health care sector. They talked about physician value-based payment reform and confidential reporting. They explained that when utilizing advanced analytics there are certain steps that take place:

  • The Acquisition and review of external data sources
  • Processing of data
  • The production of payment adjustments and reports
  • Providing technical assistance to clients

Panel 3: The Analytics Frontier

Moderator:
J.B. Wogan, staff writer, Governing Magazine

Panelists:

  • Jennifer Brooks, director Economic, Human Services, and Workforce Division, National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices
  • Scott Cody, vice president and director of program and policy experts, Data Analytics Division, Mathematica Policy Research
  • Mark Peterson, Office of Science and Technology, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Jennifer Brooks of NGA elaborated on the importance of advanced analytics for the nation's governors. She stated that, more and more governors are utilizing advanced analytics to help them make their programs more efficient. "It is becoming a powerful tool for them."

All of the panelists were in complete agreement that "advanced analytics" is becoming more than just a buzz word in the research field. Federal and state agencies are utilizing the work of data scientists and analytics officers to meet the growing demand for advanced analytics in the public sector. High quality advanced analytics can guide decision makers in creating more effective and cost-saving programs.        

 

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