Online Program

Ensuring 'the cupboard's not bare': Assessing adequacy of resources for statistical consulting in health plans and agencies serving vulnerable populations

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

S. Rae Starr, MPhil, MOrgBehav, HealthCare Outcomes & Analysis, L.A. Care Health Plan, Los Angeles, CA
Earl Leonard III, MS, HealthCare Outcomes & Analysis, L.A. Care Health Plan, Los Angeles, CA
Health care expansion implies larger patient populations and greater demands on finite resources. Statisticians in healthcare organizations, face a dual challenge: (a) meeting greater demand for analyses to guide improvements in services and access; while (b) harried administrators reluctantly staff non-clinical functions such as statistics. Best practices in staffing and organizing analytic departments in agencies and health plans are not widely studied or reported.

(1) Study design: The briefing reports results from a small-sample study among agencies and health plans serving vulnerable populations, about their staffing, resources, roles, and organizational placement of statistics and analytics. Respondents were interviewed primarily by telephone or emailed surveys.

(2) Settings: The study uses purposive sampling to get data points from diverse organizations, including stronger and weaker performers to assess the merits of their staffing strategies. The sampling targeted statisticians, analysts, or their administrators, focusing on quality improvement as a functional area typically present in health plans.

(3) Findings: The briefing reports: numbers of analytic staff; training; client departments; types of analysis; technical level of statistical work; software and computing resources.

(4) Analysis: The presentation will include comparisons of how statistical consulting is deployed in anonymous higher- and lower-performing healthcare organizations; and comparisons of differences in their practices.

(5) Uses: The study provides a template for statisticians and administrators to assess statistical staffing and resources in their organizations, against best practices elsewhere. The findings are designed to guide improvements in the organization of analytic resources to support decision-makers adapting to dramatic changes in health care.

Learning Areas:

Biostatistics, economics
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
Assess ways in which statistical consulting is organized in health plans and agencies serving vulnerable populations. Discuss challenges and avoidable pitfalls within organizations that deploy statistical consultation as a service. Discuss how statistical consulting is resourced in different healthcare organizations. Describe how statistical services link to decision-makers in diverse settings. Discuss how the linkage to management, affirmatively or adversely impacts the usefulness of statisticians in decision support roles.

Keyword(s): Statistics, Quality Improvement

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Served seven years as Senior Biostatistician managing surveys and analytic projects within the largest public health plan in the United States, serving Medicaid and CHIP populations in an ethnically diverse urban county in the southwest United States. Have consulted with programs on methodology, statistics, and evaluation. Have interacted with analytic staff in diverse settings, and have served on invited conference panels to address applied analytics in quality improvement.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.