dr. rask
January 23, 2017
by ali

Dr. Kimberly Rask is the Chief Data Officer at Alliant Health Solutions. With more than 20 years of experience in quality measurement, she has served as a Medical Director for the CMS-funded QIN-QIO for the state of Georgia since 2008.

Dr. Rask also holds joint appointments as Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management and Associate Professor of Medicine at Emory University – where her research and teaching focuses on quality improvement and outcomes measurement.

In short, Dr. Rask is our quality improvement guru, and our health outcomes data extraordinaire. We recently caught up with her to discuss the importance of data in health care, and Alliant’s new Health Data Analytics Unit.

Why do you think data is so important as health care shifts to a value-based model?
As the healthcare landscape changes, providers are increasingly being required to demonstrate that they are providing the recommended care, and their patients are achieving expected outcomes. As an organization who helps support these providers in doing quality improvement work, we are asked the same question. Our customers are asking us to prove our worth, and to prove that we are making a difference. And that proof can be found in the data.

How has the use of data shifted for providers, and what challenges do the changes present? 
With health care changing rapidly, data needs are changing rapidly as well. There is a lot of data available in the healthcare space. The challenge lies in translating the data into information that can lead to meaningful solutions. Providers and their partners need to identify the right data points – those that are accurate and feasible to collect – and translate them into actionable steps toward enhanced quality of care.

In September, you launched Alliant’s Health Data Analytics Unit. Can you tell us about the team and why it’s so valuable?
Good analytics is a team sport. Any analyst can look at data and make conclusions, but in the health care industry, you need someone with clinical expertise to give context to the data. For our team, we pulled together analysts with backgrounds in Medicare and Medicaid data, and evaluation specialists who have experience in quality improvement and business intelligence. Together, we can draw upon our collective skills and knowledge to identify key success metrics and then establish processes to measure those metrics. And, by combining clinical and analytical minds, we broke down the silos you would typically find on healthcare data teams.

What makes our Health Data Analytics Unit so unique?
There is a saying that the bigger the ship, the bigger the effort required to turn it. We’re lucky as a moderate-sized company that we can be more nimble. We have a flexible, cross-trained team that can respond very quickly. As I’ve mentioned, the health care landscape and the quality improvement world is evolving quickly. As an agile team, we have the ability to meet the needs of our internal users and our external customers in an efficient, time-sensitive manner.

What has been the biggest achievement of the new data team so far?
Our first goal was to launch individual program dashboards with high-level summaries that could break down into quality measures at the task-level. Essentially we’ve built a tool that tells us how we’re doing, how we should be doing, and based on that, projects whether or not we will hit that program goal on time. Our program managers are now able to confirm, in real-time, that their programs are on track. If there’s an area that needs attention, they will be able to see exactly where the issue is, and create actionable steps to address it. It’s an exciting achievement for the team, and the first of many!