SAS welcomes Chief Medical Officer to health and life sciences practice
Dr. Linda Harpole will help the analytics giant deliver best-of-breed analytics solutions across the spectrum of health industries
Analytics leader SAS has selected Linda Harpole, MD, MPH, as its Chief Medical Officer. Harpole, a board-certified internist, comes to the role with more than 20 years in academic and pharmaceutical industry research. That experience includes former clinical practice at Duke University Medical Center and executive roles at GlaxoSmithKline.
As an industry leader in health analytics, SAS helps health care providers, health insurers and biopharmaceutical companies improve clinical care, strengthen financial performance, deepen patient relationships, and advance medical innovation. Harpole’s appointment brings critical new perspective to the business unit.
"The veritable big data floodgates are wide open, and organizations in the health sector are awash in data like never before," said Dan Cain, Vice President of Health and Life Sciences at SAS. "With Linda’s leadership and vision, SAS is setting a health analytics strategy that connects with customers, wherever they are on their analytics journeys. She will play an integral role in helping us understand and meet our customers’ evolving objectives with software and services that enable our customers to realize the full potential of their data.”
Harpole’s diverse clinical expertise encompasses real-world evidence, pharmacoeconomics, patient-reported outcomes and health system interventions across the therapeutic disciplines. When big data came knocking on health care’s door a decade ago, she developed an early interest in the analytic technologies that promised to transform health care the way they had revolutionized business practices in banking and manufacturing. Although the health care industry still lags behind those advanced analytics trailblazers, Harpole sees the landscape changing quickly.
“To borrow from Dickens, it is the best of times and the worst of times in health care,” said Harpole. “Health care organizations are suffering monumental challenges: complex care delivery, insurance coverage fraught with conflict, and rising physician burnout among them. Patients are caught in the middle, trying to navigate the milieu to attain high-quality, affordable care.
“At the same time, opportunities for improved health abound. Precision medicine is increasingly becoming a reality in diagnosing and treating diseases. Add to that the explosion of predictive analytic capabilities, allowing us to analyze, in near-real time, large swaths of data unimaginable in the recent past. We have opportunity to make meaningful change around every corner.”
Against this backdrop, Harpole envisions herself a “translational force” in health care informatics, someone able to relate to clinicians’ and researchers’ unique viewpoints and map their needs to specific analytic capabilities.
“I have lived our customers’ challenges, first in academic medicine as a provider and clinical researcher and then in pharma as a leader demonstrating the value of medicines to the physician and payer communities,” she said. “That’s what attracted me to SAS, in fact. Having been on the other side, I can authentically represent those points of view in a way that helps our experts tailor better solutions and advance health care modernization. There’s honestly never been a more exciting time to work in the field.”
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