Articles, PSQH April 30, 2018

Analytics: Act Like an EIS Officer

by Barry P Chaiken, MD

In a response to the threat of biological warfare during the Korean War, in 1951 the federal government established the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) training program. EIS officers soon became known as disease detectives, looking for the next infectious disease threat. In 1955, EIS officers established a national surveillance system that identified 260 polio cases that were traced to unsafe vaccines made by a single California pharmaceutical company. Identifying the cause of the illness allowed other manufacturers to claim their vaccines as being safe and restored public confidence in the immunization program, saving hundreds of children from a lifetime of disability.

So, what does this have to do with analytics? The key to making analytics valuable to an organization requires managers to apply surveillance techniques, first proven effective by EIS officers 60 years ago, to their reports.

The power of data analytics software combined with the abundance of data sets creates an environment where the volume of reports overwhelms the ability of managers to parse the reports to obtain valuable, actionable information. Therefore, analytics software presents a growing ever-present danger to organizations that do not understand how to best utilize the reports generated. Careful governance rules must be followed to best use the software to improve quality of care and reduce costs.

Excerpts from Analytics: Act Like an EIS Officer PSQH, Spring/Summer 2018

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