Developing Analytics for the Healthcare Safety Net: A Systems Approach


MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDavid Hartzband

David Hartzband, D.Sc., Research Affiliate, Engineering Systems Division, MIT

Date: November 17, 2014

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About the Presentation

Whether focused on big data, small data, or both, analytics is transforming healthcare by enabling better decision-making in both clinical and operational areas. However, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “Organizations that are part of the healthcare safety net, i.e., that deliver care in a variety of settings such as public hospitals, community health centers … free clinics, special service providers, and in some cases, physician networks and school-based clinics that deliver care to low-income, vulnerable patients are at risk.” Although many facilities receive state and federal funding, safety nets remain locally organized and managed, which means there is a patchwork of systems with little coordination and integration. Consequently, many care providers are poorly positioned to take advantage of advances in information technology (IT).

In this webinar, David Hartzband, D.Sc. will discuss current research devoted to learning how best to help federally qualified health centers make use of contemporary analytics. He will discuss:

  • Education for staff in urban and rural health centers that will help them distinguish between current data reporting practices and the kinds of inquiries that can be performed through new thinking and new technical approaches;
  • Why analytics is not an IT function, a software package, or a technical protocol;
  • The types of analytics-based inquiries that can be used to support an organization’s goals and significantly facilitate strategic decision-making; and
  • The systems approach to every aspect of a project, including development of an analytic infrastructure as well as cultivation of an environment in which different kinds of strategic questions can be asked and the results appropriately interpreted.

This webinar will also offer an overview of project assumptions, the process used to engage the health centers, the progress made to date, and the results of preliminary inquiries.

A Q&A will follow the presentation.

We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

David Hartzband, D.Sc., is a research affiliate in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division. After a 25-plus-year career designing and developing software technologies—during which time he twice designed and led the implementation of products with billion-dollar revenue streams—he moved into the field of healthcare information technology (HIT). In the last 10 years, he has worked on the architecture of several of the largest health information exchanges in the country, designed and led the development of both practice management and electronic health records (EHR) systems, and consulted with many HIT companies, especially startups.

He recently served as principal investigator for a Department of Commerce/National Institute of Standards and Technology grant on providing trusted identities in cyberspace through the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace program, a White House initiative. He is in the process of completing a U.S. Health and Human Services research project investigating the use of EHRs to provide combined records for medical and behavioral health treatment.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.