The term “data analytics” is used a lot these days, but unless you work in
the field, you may not know what the term means or fully understand its
So, what exactly is data analytics, and how do health insurance companies
like Independence Blue Cross (Independence) use it to make informed and
innovative decisions to power better health care?
You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure
The simplest definition of data analytics is the science of identifying
patterns in data and gaining insights from that data. One of Independence’s
main objectives in using data analytics is to enable company leaders and
stakeholders to make evidence-based decisions that are transparent,
verifiable, and robust.
This involves using techniques, tools, and systems that help:
• Identify and clarify patterns in data
• Identify trends and changes
• Validate the next best action to achieve desired change
Simply put, you can’t manage what you can’t measure; but with robust data,
analysis, and metrics, it becomes easier to make more informed decisions.
Redefining Health Care Delivery
These decisions are helping Independence advance in the company’s
to improve the health of the community.
“Independence has a long history of serving our community, and we’re
committed to creating a better health care system for all,” says
Mike Vennera, senior vice president and chief information officer at Independence.
Data analysis plays an increasingly important role in how Independence is
helping to redefine health care delivery to improve our region’s health
care system. It influences how quality-based decisions are being made at
various levels to ensure that care is equitable, effective, affordable, and
With insights from reports, dashboards, trends, benchmarks, and descriptive
analysis, Independence can use information from the past to plan for the
future. Taking this a step further, the company can use this information to
answer questions about trends that influence health outcomes and health
The organization can also use techniques like
predictive modeling, which can highlight relationships between events and issues and can help
anticipate future outcomes and occurrences.
For example, Independence can create models to predict future
hospitalizations and readmissions, the onset of diabetes, and the
likelihood of high-risk pregnancies ― issues that affect communities of
color at a higher rate ― to help
reduce racial health disparities
and improve health outcomes.
A Mix of Talent, Technology, and Methodology
Advanced analytics have the potential for use in many different realms of
health care. These range from clinical and operations research to clinical
decision support, population health management, fraud prevention, and
evaluating the effectiveness of specific programs.
For an organization like Independence to benefit from analytics as part of
its mission to improve health care delivery, it must have the right
resources, which include talent, technology, and analytics methodology.
It is also important to continually adapt processes to accommodate new
information and improve decision-making. Analytics should be considered a
continual improvement process and not a one-time event. At Independence,
this means ongoing collaboration and engagement with providers, customers,
and members to drive change that promotes equitable, whole-person health.
Breaking Down Barriers to Achieve Health Equity
Health care analytics is an exciting field, and there are a lot of topics
to cover. Over the next few months, we’ll explore how data informs the work
done at Independence.
The organization will take a more in-depth look at topics such as risk
stratification, customer and provider reporting, advanced analytics, how to
detect bias in algorithms, and how to use data to break down barriers to
address racial health disparities to achieve
This article was originally published on
About Ravi Chawla
Ravi Chawla is VP and Chief Analytics Officer at Independence Blue Cross.
His team develops valuable business reporting insights and models to better
serve Independence customers and members. Mr. Chawla has developed an
organization that is future-looking, adaptive, and innovative. His team
consists of analytic solution architects who develop custom analytics for
clients in the clinical, marketing, product, contracting, and consumer
spaces. He holds an M.B.A. from Wayne State University, a Master of Science
degree from the University of Vermont-Burlington, and an undergraduate
degree from India.