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Analytics Magazine

Inside story: Antithesis of analytics

In a recent Analytics newsletter, I noted that healthcare was the top issue in at least one national poll of voters looking at the November midterm elections, ranking right up there with the economy and jobs, and ahead of immigration, taxes and guns. Of course, voters can have very different reasons for naming any one of those topics their top priority. Guns could be the No. 1 issue for those in favor of expanding gun rights or those in favor of expanding gun control.

I also noted that in today’s volatile, hyper-partisan era, almost every issue has a political angle to it, even healthcare. It’s no surprise that the economy and healthcare are at the top of the list since both involve pocketbook issues to which almost everyone can relate, regardless of their political persuasion. Who doesn’t want a better job, more money and a better lifestyle or affordable, comprehensible health insurance and a better, well, life? Yet healthcare, like the economy, is double-dipped in bitter politics. How did that happen?

I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it’s a long, convoluted story with many twists and turns. Let’s just say politicians on both sides of the aisle have to play political games or they perish.

Unfortunately, politics – both the professional version practiced by elected officials and the amateur stuff witnessed in many corporations and business offices – often leads to bad decision-making. Politics, wherever it turns up, is the antithesis of analytics. So, what’s a data-driven analyst to do? Their job.

This issue of Analytics magazine includes several articles in which analytics professionals wade into potentially politically infested waters to build a fact-based case for decision-makers. Rajib Ghosh cuts to the heart of the analytics vs. politics battle in his Healthcare Analytics column (page 12). Manjeet Singh joins the healthcare revolution by describing how analytics is powering the transition from “one-size-fits-all” to personalized, patient-centric medicine (page 30).

Artificial intelligence is another politically charged topic that draws the attention of contributors Joe Byrum and Barry Cousins. Byrum says now is the time to develop a set of values to guide the AI revolution in a rational way (page 36), while Cousins outlines a future role of AI to improve fact checking (page 42).

Sign me up. Now all we have to do is agree on what’s rational and what’s a fact.

– Peter Horner, editor
peter.horner@informs.org

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