Tapping into Big Data Analytics in Health Care with Bob Rogers

BobRogersJoin Health 2.0 EDU and Bob Rogers PhD, Chief Data Scientist at Apixio, on Thursday September 19th for a masters class on big data and health care. We caught up with Bob to discuss his experiences in health care and his upcoming excitement for his one time only Learn it Live session on September 19th at 2:00pm PT.

EDU: You first received your PhD in astrophysics, then you managed a hedge fund. What inspired you to shift your interests to health care?

BR: As a physicist, I was inspired by the idea that my ideas and research could lead to useful discoveries, but I found that the relative impact of astrophysics was small. The personal opportunities to apply my knowledge in finance were irresistible, but over time I began to miss having a sense of intrinsic value to my work, so I turned my attention to health care. I’m in exactly the right place now and the possibilities for having an impact are boundless.

EDU: What are you focused on right now at Apixio?

BR: My number one goal right now is to help health care organizations access all of their data, including structured data, textual documents, and images to help them compute risk adjustment scores and manage risk.  The business and financial challenges to health care organizations to simultaneously increase efficiency and improve care are impossible to overcome without reliable data. Studies show that over two-thirds of key clinical information is missing from the coded layer of EHRs, so we are developing technology that surfaces the information hidden in clinical narrative and scanned documents. Given the number and diversity of the documents generated by health care systems, this is truly a big data problem.

3. Your work in application and algorithm development seems like a hard concept to grasp: How do you explain something so new but fundamental to people in health care without a tech background? Why do you think it’s important for executives in organizations like hospitals and pharma companies to understand big data?

BR: The goal of information technology is to answer questions and to solve problems: The underlying technology is secondary.  I like to focus on specific examples, use cases and analogies, that everyone in the industry can understand and appreciate. Decision makers in health care and pharma need reliable information to run their businesses, but many have been burned by clunky, expensive technology that has not met expectations.  Health care data IS big and requires big data techniques to make it useful, so a good understanding of the opportunities and risks of big data is crucial to navigate successfully.

EDU: What new application of big data in health care are you most excited about?

BR: There are two areas that are exciting to me.  In the therapeutic arena, it has become possible to make meaningful discoveries about the safety and applicability of drugs by mining clinical narrative. For example, Stanford professor Nigam Shah is doing some very impactful work in this area. On the clinical care side, it is now possible to use big data techniques to efficiently and accurately compute risk scores for all patients in a health system.  This helps organizations succeed under the Affordable Care Act and creates opportunities to empower care coordination, chronic disease management and cost management for populations.

EDU: What are you most looking forward to in your upcoming LearnItLive course with Health 2.0 EDU, and what do you hope your students will take away?

BR: I’m looking forward to learning about the challenges and use cases that are impacting my students. I hope they will come away with the confidence and knowledge to embrace the aspects of big data analytics that can help them run their organizations successfully.


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