Solving Health Care Policy with Engineering

Aug 19, 2016 | Atlanta, GA

In a nondescript room on Fifth Street, billions of files containing millions of Americans’ personal health information are stored. The few gatekeepers allowed into this highly secured room are the members of Georgia Tech’s Health Analytics team, a group of students and faculty members who use data science methodologies to analyze and interpret all of this information.

So what’s in the files? The Health Analytics group has, over time, bought 500 billion Medicaid claims from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal agency. The claims date back nearly 10 years, from 2007-2012. For two of those years, Tech has all of the claims filed in the entire United States; for the rest of the period, the claims of 14 states located mostly in the Southeast. 

The claims allow the team to study how people use the health care system: how many times they went to the doctor, if and when they filled a prescription, if they went to the specialist they were referred to, or how many times they’ve been to the emergency room or otherwise hospitalized. The data also includes what costs were associated with each doctor, specialist, or hospital visit, and what drives those costs — so they can study how to increase cost efficiency on a systemic level.

Read more about the ISyE Health Analytics group's work here: http://b.gatech.edu/2ba2VBT.