SCS Career Services Hosts Online Event with VP of Enterprise Analytics for Health Care Service Corporation
“Predictive modeling is very critical to the health care industry,” said James Grana, PhD, vice president of enterprise analytics for Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), the parent company of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Grana’s presentation on the wide applicability and competitive advantage of using predictive analytics in health care was welcomed by his audience of students in the Master of Science in Predictive Analytics (MSPA) program at Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies. The event was one of several company information sessions hosted by SCS Career Services this academic year for MSPA students.
Grana leads an advanced analytics team, a consumer insights team, a pharmacy analytics team and a provider analytics team at HCSC. He has more than 20 years of leadership experience specializing in business analytics, business development, enterprise risk management and marketing informatics. His discussion at SCS focused on the value of predictive analytics in health care, while providing insight into career opportunities at HCSC.
Why large employers in the health care industry are interested in predictive analytics, Grana explained, “is because it can predict which individuals are most likely to have a disease-specific, acute exacerbation prior to that event happening. This,” he elaborated, “helps employers save money, target high-risk patients, offer improved care and prevent acute exacerbations.”
Grana invited the audience to picture a traditional industry practice still common today: rule-based predictive modeling. In this scenario, he explained, “a number of experts sit in a room and, based on their professional experience, come up with rules associated with those most likely to have an acute exacerbation of a health problem.” The results, Grana noted, have the risk of subjective bias. While useful in some cases, such as unique diseases, rule-based predictive modeling has a lot of shortcomings according to Grana. He underlined that those trained in predictive analytics can offer the industry an alternative which cuts out those weaknesses: an empirical modeling approach. This approach, as an objective mathematical model, “removes the need to make subjective predictions, and captures subtle and complex relationships using all data.” Just some of the applications of predictive analytics in the industry include health care management, marketing, risk management and patient retention.
The marketability of predictive analytics in the health care industry today and well into the future was a point Grana emphasized. “While others are pushing the rule-based approach, you can speak to the value of the empirical approach that only a subset of the population would know how to do. This puts you in a more sophisticated, advanced space, even when interviewing.”
HCSC, according to Grana, has a unique advantage in the industry thanks to its data, speed in creating predictive models, advanced analytics platform and recent investments in human capital. Following Grana’s talk, Gerald Thompson, senior recruiter at HCSC, fielded career development questions from students.
Sonji Jones-Cooks, career services coordinator at SCS, says that company information sessions offer added value to MSPA students because they “provide an opportunity for students to learn from experienced senior-level executives in their field about topics related to their chosen industry. They also give students a chance to learn about a company and connect with recruiters seeking to grow their company’s talent resources.” SCS Career Services plans to hold at least three company information sessions for MSPA students in the 2013–14 academic year, and one more this spring: a presentation from the vice president of account analytics at the innovative marketing company Dotomi.