Cross-disciplinary Center for Health Analytics and Insights drives innovation, collaboration, better health outcomes

CARY, NC (May 12, 2011) – A new health care and life sciences research and incubation organization within SAS, the leader in business analytics software and services, will help organizations develop deeper insights into medical care, financial performance and their customers.

The SAS Center for Health Analytics and Insights (CHAI) will lead to a better, more cost-effective health delivery system by enabling collaboration on innovative uses of advanced analytics across health care and life sciences. Focus areas will include evidence-based medicine, adaptive clinical research, cost mitigation and many aspects of customer intelligence.

For more than 30 years, SAS® analytic software has been a vital instrument for the world's leading health care and life sciences companies as they have provided care and developed products. With its history in health analytics, SAS has brought together senior leaders and analysts from the health and life science industries to form CHAI.

"SAS understands that it has a special role in health and life sciences. As both an employer and consumers of health care we also well understand the struggles everyone is facing as health care delivery systems are under fundamental pressures," said Jim Goodnight, CEO and co-founder of SAS. "We are investing in CHAI because SAS recognizes the value of collaboration between all industries involved in health services and products."

Why now?

The use of advanced analytics is critical to improving health outcomes with the ongoing US debate on health system reform, discussion in many countries of how best to care for an aging population and global concerns on containing the cost of care.

"Our industry is in the midst of a huge transformation," says Jason Burke, Managing Director and Chief Strategist for CHAI. "Despite years of operating in silos, the reality is today health plans, health care providers, life sciences firms and government organizations all face similar challenges in an unsustainable system. So the promise in health analytics to these organizations – better health outcomes at lower costs, and through better customer relationships – is tremendous."

Health reform has increased the adoption of electronic health information systems that offer potential for analysis, but the real opportunity is in bringing business and clinical insights together to drive decision making. Though many organizations have used analytics for years, an increased focus on advanced analytics and cross-market collaboration are new, reflecting a growing recognition that fundamental improvements are needed. All health industry segments require collaboration and more sophisticated uses of information.

How will it work?

CHAI industry experts will develop and propagate the use of advanced analytics across the health and life sciences ecosystem: conducting industry research; publishing best practice findings; engaging with industry executives and associations; establishing innovative advanced analytical applications; and helping organizations plan for ongoing change. Industry analytical topics include health outcomes, clinical trials, health care cost mitigation, data privacy and customer intelligence.

CHAI's goals center on creating opportunities for collaborative innovation in three ways:

  • Improving medical care. "SAS has unmatched experience in applying advanced analytics to patient data," said CHAI Senior Manager of Analytical Consulting Dave Handelsman. "From driving new medical innovations through techniques such as adaptive clinical trials, all the way to improving patient health outcomes through evidence-based medicine programs, the role of advanced analytics is crucial." Handelsman has been with SAS for more than 10 years and served as Product Manager for SAS Drug Development. He was previously an executive at ClinTrials and worked earlier at Pharmaceutical Research Associates.
  • Strengthening financial performance. "Nobody can discuss health care without talking about the financial implications," said CHAI Senior Health Plan Consultant Sarah Rittman, formerly Director of Business Transformation at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. "These concerns include a health insurance industry moving from wholesale to retail business models, a pharmaceutical industry facing unprecedented levels of R&D costs and providers struggling to maintain profitability. There is simply no choice – we must become smarter. Analytics must be applied to information for better financial decisions. And it is not just about knowing the costs – it is about predicting and preventing them." Rittman, is a former director of business transformation at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.
  • Deepening customer insights. "Complexity has greatly increased," said CHAI Senior Pharmaceutical Consultant Brad Sitler, previously General Manager of a pharmaceutical marketing firm. "This industry transformation means that everyone is facing new customers. Who are they? What are they looking for? How should I interact with them? And how can I build a relationship that ultimately improves patients' lives while protecting the privacy of their data? These questions are driving a new level of interest in applying advanced analytical techniques from other industries to life and health sciences."

CHAI was announced at the 8th Annual SAS Health & Life Sciences Executive Conference.

About SAS in Health Analytics

SAS is the industry leader in health analytics software and services, delivering best-in-class solutions for improving medical care, strengthening financial performance, deepening customer relationships, and pursuing medical innovations. All of the top 25 health plans and pharmaceutical companies depend on SAS for strategic insights into health outcomes, profitability, and customer preferences and behaviors that produce useful intelligence for business transformation and growth.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions delivered within an integrated framework, SAS helps customers at more than 50,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world The Power to Know®.