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Analytics Magazine

Inside story: Rx for healthcare debate

Five months have come and gone since the U.S. presidential election and three months have come and gone since the inauguration, and yet the country remains evenly divided over almost everything even remotely related to politics. No, I didn’t expect partisan passions to magically dissipate after Election Day, but I did expect some sort of compromised agreement on how to best fix a U.S. healthcare and associated insurance system that all parties agree is flawed, needs fixing and is in everyone’s interest to do so.

Turns out members of the majority House party initially couldn’t agree among themselves on how best to move forward, let alone bring members of the minority party into the discussion. Politics aside, is there any more critical issue facing the potentially uninsured or underinsured than healthcare, knowing that at any day a serious illness can potentially cost them their life savings if not their lives?

Sure, the economy, the environment, terrorism, North Korea, Russia, China, Syria, the Middle East in general, etcetera, etcetera are all major concerns, but as the old saying goes, there’s nothing more important than your health.

Thankfully, analytics has and will continue to shape U.S. healthcare in positive and meaningful ways. The Affordable Care Act, despite its many flaws, mandated value over volume in patient care, and ushered in an era of accountable healthcare. Yale University professor and INFORMS Past President Ed Kaplan, over the course of his career, has shown that data-driven research can convince skeptical politicians to change public health policies, from their reluctance to a needle-exchange program to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS in Hartford, Conn., to their resistance of blood donations from Palestinians in Israel.

In this issue of Analytics magazine, several contributors weigh in on the healthcare industry in the post-election era. In his “Viewpoint” column titled “Healthier use of healthcare data,” Tim Spaeth says, “While the deluge of data has become a challenge that impacts every aspect of the healthcare industry, it also represents a tremendous opportunity for IT and Finance to collaborate and create measurable value.” Meanwhile, Rajib Ghosh discusses the “Evolution of data organizations in healthcare” in his regular “Healthcare Analytics” column. For the latest in optimizing health service operations and outcomes, see the preview of the 2017 INFORMS Healthcare Conference.

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

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