#LIGHTFORUM2018 Q&A: Pamela Peele, PhD

Pamela Peele, PhD, is Chief Analytics Officer, at UPMC Health Plan and UPMC Enterprises. Dr. Peele is responsible for creating innovative analytics that drive financial and clinical performance including economic modeling, predictive modeling, statistical analysis, and machine learning. She currently holds faculty appointments in Health Policy and Management and in Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. At LIGHT 2018, hear from Dr. Peele as she gives a provider’s perspective on healthcare and technology (May 9, 3:05 pm). 


How will innovations in AI and machine learning improve healthcare access, affordability, and outcomes?

This is a really exciting time in AI. Artificial Intelligence is not new, it’s been around for decades. What’s novel, is the ability to bring massive amounts of data and computational power at scale, with the addition of highly sophisticated algorithms. This perfect storm is custom-made for health care. On the backend, I expect to see healthcare quickly transform with regards to the discovery of optimization for treatment plans. We’ve treated people in terms of what works for a population, but now we will move to treat what works best for you.

One of the most game changing aspects of big data is natural language processing on top of electronic medical records, the ability to articulate the clinical outcomes. Much of the outcomes are nuanced and they reside largely in unstructured notes. We have not widely deployed NLP for quality metrics or processes of care, but it is quickly coming down the pipeline.

What are the barriers to adoption?

It’s an exciting and exploding area for people like me in analytics. What we do doesn’t matter if the healthcare industry doesn’t have the capacity to consume the knowledge we generate.

A huge barrier is that physicians are not trained or custom to working in large populations— they are trained for one patient at a time. We have to push this data into a well-cemented flow of health care delivery and make sure physicians are equipped with the skills they need to utilize the data.

It also comes down to trust. Ultimately, health care has barely changed. How does the office visit when you were a child look different than it does today? It’s the same. The ability to change the process, what care and how we are delivering will take time. We must trust the new data and overcome the consumption skill.

Who do you believe owns healthcare data between the patient, provider, and payer?

Everyone thinks they own the data and I would concur. The patient owns it because it is their metrics and encounters. From that perspective, it’s like a bank account. In the same way a bank needs to understand how its clients consume, use and act on data, the provider must also have access. Similarly, payers who put together the benefit structure to optimize the health of a population, need visibility into the data and outcomes.

What are you looking forward to at the LIGHT Forum?

I’m looking forward to the networking. It’s an interesting forum to hear and interact with a diverse group of academics, government and policymakers, and people who deliver healthcare as a business.

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