The Importance of (Big) Data for Healthcare Safety-Net Organizations


David Hartzband, DSc

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

David Hartzband, DSc, Research Affiliate, MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center

Date: February 8, 2016

Slides available here.

About the Presentation

Big data holds great promise for understanding the successes and failures of systems in a wide range of industries. This webinar will explore the use of big data in the healthcare system, with specific reference to a multiyear project that deployed Hadoop-based analytics at 33 Federally Qualified Community Health Centers with approximately 1.3 million patients.

The project analyzed five years of data to assess data quality and its impact on care and found that:

  • reporting of specific conditions was often lower than expected given known estimates for the US population;
  • the rates of obesity and heart disease as reported appeared especially low; and
  • these apparent data errors made identifying comorbidities problematic.

The speaker will explore possible system causes for these results, including:

  • a structural misalignment of electronic health records with actual health center practices;
  • impediments to proper reporting caused by sociocultural and organizational contexts; and
  • poor-quality data.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

David Hartzband, DSc, is a research affiliate of the MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center where he does research on technology evolution and adoption for healthcare organizations. He is the founder of PostTechnical Research, a technology futures and consulting firm that works primarily with early stage healthcare information companies on issues of technology evolution, product development, and technology landscape. He is also director for technology research at the RCHN Community Health Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on issues of healthcare policy and technology for Federally Qualified Community Health Centers nationwide. He holds a doctoral degree in mathematics.

About the Series

The MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series, sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program, 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. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

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