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  • R. John Vogel III

Data Automation, Predictive Analytics, and... a telescope?

A telescope that can see into the past? Could that help predict some of our future?

So, possibly one of the biggest events to happen during our lifetime is about to happen in December 2021, yet I'm surprised to see that no one in the press seems to be talking about it.

The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to launch on that very day. What is that? It's the successor to the Hubble, only 3 times as large and 100 times more powerful. NASA has been working on it for 25 years and it's a miracle they were able to complete it. It was almost canceled in 2011.

The technology on this telescope will launch nothing short of an astronomical revolution and two major historical events:

  • We will be able to see if there is life on the exoplanets we've discovered and detect whether the atmospheres of those planets are being modified by that life.

  • We will be able to see the first stars and galaxies ever created from the Big Bang.

That's right, this telescope will literally look back in time to view the very first galaxies and allow us to witness the birth of our known Universe.

That's some crazy stuff, man.

Crazy, crazy stuff.

-- Neil DeGrasse Tyson

While it won't detect alien life, taking a 'snapshot' of your data's past is what our data-ingestion and reporting tool "iSS" does - and both are space-themed*, neat!

iSS at its core is like a super-powered telescope that can allow deep research and create actionable reports out of data. Any kind of data. Disparate, multi-homed, and data that doesn't look like data - as long as we can normalize it, iSS can report on it. In fact, the St. Paul Group has been normalizing health care data for almost 50 years.

Once the data is normalized and input into iSS - that's where our developers have created "ad-hoc" functionality within our reporting tool. For example, moving data elements from the "x" axis to the "y" axis and vice-versa, taking a data element out of the report but still using it as a filter, re-ordering data elements to "combine" or "break-out" sub-groups; it's all possible within iSS. But we can go so much further than fancy reporting tools with your data.

"Predictive-Analytics" and "automation" are popular buzzwords in the tech and data industries. Each term sounds like the future but honestly, describe processes (mostly If-Then/conditional statements). Let's look at these processes and see potential applications within our iSS platform.

Predictive Analytics - With organizational help, we can look into the future - using the past as a guide - just like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Let's say a hospital wants to know how many expected knee surgeries they will have next year. Once associated physician's offices and standalone clinics data sets are normalized, we can determine the historical characteristics of past knee surgery patients in their individual (or grouped) histories. For example, let's say that, on average, each surgical patient had 3 physician appointments, 2 imaging appointments, and a set of specific ICD or CPT codes in their patient chart. Within 18 months, each of these patients had surgeries scheduled. If we cross-reference those stats over a certain period within iSS, we can ascertain or glean that "X" number of surgeries should be on the horizon for patients in this list. This can help in resource planning or even if the expected number of surgeries is significantly lower than expected - are the patients going to competitors? Does our marketing team have a problem? Do we need additional support in these areas? At which point, you can also use iSS for diving into individual patient records to predict the future by looking at the past.

Automation - As the workforce, especially in health care, becomes increasingly stretched thin, automating processes will become even more critical. Let's take a Maryland hospital (that has to group cases via APR and EAPG-DRG's as opposed to CMS-DRG as the other 49 states). With an E.H.R. API (Epic, Cerner, etc…), we can pull a data tape, import it into a virtual machine (hosted or on-prem), group the data, report on it, then deliver it to a person or group.


Let's say that the Chief Diversity Officer, responsible for equity and diversity, gets a "social determinants of health" report each Monday automagically without running any reports or clicking any buttons after initial set up. And we're not talking about a canned report - this report will be built specifically for each client so the metrics are actionable and unique to the recipients.


What about a Director of Learning and Development getting a report each day showing which clinicians specifically are not entering in CPT codes, so these cases are not captured in the total GBR of Maryland? (ie. Their hospital isn't getting their entire slice of the budget as they should). How's that for pro-actively going after compliance before an auditor catches it?!? By the way, worried about security? This data never touches the internet and is done entirely on a private cloud or private network.

We see these two uses as vital to the health care industry in 2022 and beyond, and we're excited to partner with forward-thinking organizations that want to get more out of their data and resources. Heck, many of these orgs don't know that The St. Paul Group is a 50+-year-old company that will help with these solutions.

We hope you join us in our quest to reach for the stars.

*at The St. Paul Group, we're space nerds. From our president's knowledge and interest in the Apollo programs (and those that lead up to Apollo) to my STS fandom and our other employees' interests in Space and Space programs, we've always looked to the stars. As SpaceX and Blue Origin (and I guess Virgin Galactic) usher in the new space race, we continue to be in awe of the human potential.


**Picture credit, Nasa

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