Health 2.0 Introduces Big Players in Big Data

Bob Rogers isn’t just the Chief Data Scientist at Apixio, he’s also a physicist, prior hedge fund manager, and now an instructor for Health 2.0 EDU’s joint three-day executive education course with UC Berkeley on digital health startingOctober 3rd. Bob’s career shift to health care gave what he references as “a sense of intrinsic value” to his work in a time where the value of health care technology is only increasing:

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

BR: My number one goal right now is to help health care organizations get seamless, simple access to all of their data, including structured data, textual documents, and images.  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.

EDU: 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?

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 and use cases and analogies that everyone in the industry can understand and appreciate.

EDU: Why do you think it’s important for executives in organizations like hospitals and pharma companies to understand big data?

BR: 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 construct a network model of an entire health system using big data techniques. This 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 UC Berkeley 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.

Registration for the executive course ends September 1, 2013. The full agenda is available HERE.