Fifteen years ago, many medical records were still paper-based, data science was in its infancy, and free open source analytical tools like R were rarely used outside academics. Predictive analytics, text mining, image recognition, deep learning, were obscure concepts; Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn did not exist.
Fifteen years ago, as a researcher at RAND, I was analyzing billions of health insurance claim records, trying to measure and compare medical productivity between Germany and the US. At the time, this was Big Data. Big Data nobody had really looked into yet. And big data that was “messy”: Little was known about the quality of the registration, and important variables were missing, or only partially available. To make sense out of these data, I quickly learned that three areas of competence were essential for successful analyses: Having a deep and rigorous understanding of statistics and math, knowing the underlying domain, health economics in this case, extremely well, and being savvy about IT.
Nowadays, people who are able to blend those three areas of competence (statistics, IT, and domain-specific knowledge) are called “data scientists”, a discipline referred to by some as the most sexy job of the 21st century.
Sexy, or not, ever since those first billion of health insurance claim records, my passion has been to create value for organizations by analyzing their data, and helping them to become data-driven. After 8 years at RAND, working mostly from their headquarters in Santa Monica, California, I moved backed to the Netherlands, and had the privilege of joining Achmea’s actuarial department for the next 4 years. Besides the typical actuarial modelling on risk adjustment and loss reserving, I was able to extract novel insights with clinical relevance from their data, which were accepted for publication by top academic journals. In 2012, I started my own business, Research for Decisions, to work with a broad range of clients on data-driven solutions to prepare them for the challenges of the 21st century.
If you have data, a team of analysts, or (preferably) both, and are looking to leap forward, speed up, innovate, and challenge your competitors, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Han de Vries