May 30, 2014

State of Alabama
Press Release: Medicaid

New technology helps drive quality improvement and cost-savings

With an average monthly enrollment of more than 1 million Alabama citizens, the Alabama Medicaid Agency knows that much of its future success depends on its ability to analyze data on illness, treatment and costs at a detailed level.


“What we have learned is that you cannot generalize about a group that represents roughly 22 percent of the state’s population,” said Medicaid Medical Director Dr. Robert Moon. “Our goal is to capture and analyze data to better inform the use of Medicaid’s limited resources, but also to drive health care quality improvement as a part of our overall transformation process.”


A federal grant awarded in 2012 made it possible for the Agency to create a Quality Analytics Unit to increase the agency’s standardized collection and reporting of health care quality data for Medicaid-eligible adults. Using SAS Visual Analytics, an online tool that enables analysts to share data with decision makers, the agency is now able more precisely integrate and view data on illnesses, treatments and costs, segmented by population and geography. The new unit, which also supports other areas of the agency, collects, analyzes and reports on data from claims, the Real Time Medical Electronic Data Exchange (RMEDE) and other sources, according to Dr. Moon.


“What we have been able to do is to turn data into information that can drive quality decisions and achieve better health outcomes,” Dr. Moon said. “It can help answer questions like, what is the effect of using evidence based medicine to drive policy? How does the state’s prior authorization policy influence outcomes? Does the utilization of other drugs go up?”


The new resource will be of particular benefit as the Agency moves to implement Regional Care Organizations due to its ability to help visualize trends, according to Dr. Moon. For example, users can spot patterns, identify opportunities for further analysis, and convey results in easy-to-understand charts, graphs and animations. The system can also quickly identify patterns, trends and relationships that are not apparent unless graphically displayed, he said.

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