The journey toward better patient care never really ends

Reti-AlejandroTake a look at the Oakland Athletics baseball team today and it may not seem like much of a success story. The team hasn’t won a World Series since 1989 and has made the playoffs only eight times in the past 17 years. They aren’t that good, right?

Peer deeper and you’ll discover that the A’s — under the direction of Billy Beane and his Moneyball strategy — are one of the best overall teams in Major League Baseball (MLB). During the last 11 seasons, Oakland has the third-best record in the American League and fifth best in all of baseball. They’ve won the American League West Title six times during Beane’s tenure. And they’ve done it on one of the smallest budgets in MLB. 1

Beane’s philosophy of signing players who give the A’s the best chance to win is still in play. It is a continuous journey toward being the best. In health care, the journey toward high-quality patient care at the lowest cost is similarly never-ending, and success is found by taking small steps early on and progressing to more advanced techniques — using data and analytics as the compass.

Building a data-driven organization involves a steep learning curve — most won’t get it right all the time. Failures are great learning opportunities if somebody is watching. A solid analytics infrastructure makes this feasible. Critical to this infrastructure are links to clinical, payer claims and operational program data that make it possible to see the impact of an intervention on both clinical and financial outcomes, such as utilization and total cost.

After Aurora Health in Wisconsin deployed its highly successful heart failure risk reduction program at new sites, they noticed the same outcomes weren’t consistently being replicated off the bat. They needed to make some local modifications and in the process, identified some aspects of their original program that needed attention — like certain communication tasks between staff — because they’re critical to consistent success.

External benchmarks can also be invaluable in deciding when success has been achieved. Sometimes knowing when to stop and address the next problem is the most important thing.

For more information on mapping your data and analytics journey, download Optum’s Moneyball Analytics eBook by clicking here.

In our final post, we’ll outline how to proactively manage population health using prevention and intervention techniques based on data and analytics.

1 Oakland Athletics Team History & Encyclopedia,,, 2016

About the Author:

Alejandro Reti, MD, MBA
Chief Medical Officer, Optum Analytics

With responsibility for the Office of the CMO, Alejandro is accountable for the clinical integrity and relevance of Optum Analytics’ provider solutions and contributes to thought leadership and clinical product innovation for the organization. Alejandro came to Optum from Premier, where he served as Vice President, Population Health Products with general management responsibility for Premier’s organically developed population health suite. Prior to Premier, Alejandro served as Senior Vice President, Clinical Informatics at Verisk Health, where he led development of a provider analytics solution that achieved top 4 in market share nationally. Previously, Alejandro held positions of increasing responsibility at Avalere Health and The Advisory Board Company. Alejandro received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Amherst College, magna cum laude and his MD and MBA degrees from Yale University.

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