Alabama Medicaid Agency steers health outcomes, costs with SAS® Visual Analytics

Data visualization reveals information on populations, costs, treatments to improve decisions

Serving on average more than a million Alabama citizens each month, the Alabama Medicaid Agency knows that much of its future success depends on its ability to analyze data on illness, treatment and cost in detail.

“You cannot generalize about a group that represents roughly 22 percent of the state’s population,” said Alabama Medicaid Medical Director Dr. Robert Moon. “Our goal is to capture and analyze data not only to better allocate Medicaid’s limited resources but also to improve health care quality as a part of our overall transformation.”

A 2012 federal grant enabled the agency to create a Quality Analytics Unit to increase its standardized collection and reporting of health care quality data for Medicaid-eligible adults.Using SAS® Visual Analytics to share data with decision makers, the agency can now more precisely integrate and view data on illnesses, treatments and costs, segmented by population and geography. The new unit, which also supports other areas of the agency, collects, analyzes and reports on data from claims, the Real Time Medical Electronic Data Exchange (RMEDE), and other sources.

“We have been able to turn that data into information that guides better decisions and supports better health outcomes,” Dr. Moon said. “It can help answer questions like, ‘What is the effect of using evidence-based medicine to determine policy?’ 'How does the state’s prior authorization policy influence outcomes?' 'Does the utilization of other drugs go up?’ ”

Answering questions such as these can help states more effectively manage tremendous budgets. In federal fiscal year 2012, combined state and federal Medicaid expenditures in the US totaled over $415 billion.

“Alabama Medicaid understands the power of analytics to help navigate the tumultuous waters of health care reform,” said Paula Henderson, Vice President, SAS State and Local Government Practice. “The agency can quickly investigate millions of rows of data, break down expenses and outcomes in detailed and useful ways, and use the reports to drive policy.”

SAS Visual Analytics lets users explore all data – any size data set, not just a sample. Users can spot patterns, identify opportunities for further analysis and convey results in easy-to-understand charts, graphs and animations, via web reports or iPad® and Android tablets. SAS can also quickly identify patterns, trends and relationships that are not apparent unless graphically displayed.

SAS technologies and solutions for government are used in all 50 state governments to transform their operations to deliver the right services, at the right time, with the appropriate resources. SAS offers a wide array of data management, business intelligence and analytics solutions, and collaborates with governments to create innovative offerings tailored to specific departmental and agency goals.

If you’ve yet to experience SAS Visual Analytics, please try an interactive online software demo.

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