The healthcare industry is in the midst of a profound transformation, driven by new insights that can be generated from increasingly diverse sources of data. In a recent episode of our podcast, Rise of the Data Cloud, we were joined by Ashok Chennuru, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Anthem, Inc., who explained how Anthem is leading the charge in personalized healthcare with the help of the Data Cloud.
Anthem serves more than 110 million people through its affiliated companies, including approximately 43 million members within its own family of health plans. The company has pioneered a “whole-person” approach to healthcare in which it considers multiple factors—including social drivers of health—that influence its members’ well-being.
“Our role in the transformation of healthcare is to leverage digital-first, data-driven insights to serve our members at their time of need,” Chennuru said. “Data is one of the tremendous, foundational assets that we have. Our key challenge is how to take that data and translate it into actionable insights.”
Into the Cloud to Achieve Scale and Empower Data Teams
To achieve this holistic approach to healthcare, Anthem must be able to securely store and analyze petabytes of data. Several years ago, it decided to move its data operations into the cloud since its on-premises data centers could not scale to meet its data processing needs, and inefficient query performance was delaying its time to insight.
Anthem reviewed several options and chose Snowflake’s Data Cloud. As part of Anthem’s ecosystem of partners, Snowflake enables Anthem to scale up and down on an as-needed basis, meaning Anthem pays only for the compute and storage resources it needs. Anthem was also attracted to the Data Cloud because it can integrate with all of the major public clouds, enabling its teams of analysts and data scientists to self-provision the resources they need without waiting for IT to fulfill their requests.
“Cloud was really our only option,” Chennuru says. “Our company was moving towards becoming an insights-driven organization and our demand for new types of analytics and new types of AI models grew at a tremendous pace.”
Developing a Whole-Person View of Its Members
To assess an individual’s condition or predict future health needs, Anthem draws on a wide range of data, including historical, social, and environmental information. This can include prior insurance claims, electronic medical records and hospital visits, as well as biometrics and sensor data.
“We have fairly rich data for almost 80 million lives,” Chennuru says. “We combine all of that data into a lifetime patient tracker, which we can use to build predictive models.”
The aim is to use these variables to help determine an individual’s susceptibility to particular diseases or chronic conditions. Anthem may end up identifying a pattern that a patient’s primary care doctor has yet to notice, and then bring it to the healthcare provider’s attention. For instance, social data can reveal if a patient may be at increased risk from Type 2 diabetes because they live in a neighborhood lacking sources of affordable and healthy food.
Sharing Data Is Easier in the Cloud
With Snowflake, Anthem finds it much easier to share data with its healthcare partners, who use that information to improve patient care. It can also access valuable, ready-to-use, third-party data sets easily through Snowflake Data Marketplace. Anthem has set up a digital data sandbox containing anonymized patient data, which enables outside health experts to work on new data models for boosting consumer health and well-being.
“Data is at the center of everything,” said Chennuru. “When you look at data and health, they are implicitly linked with each other.”
Looking ahead, he expects increased innovation driven by the sharing of actionable data-driven insights between Anthem, its healthcare partners, and the individual patients.
“Through this holistic approach to meet the needs of the whole person, we are creating and delivering innovative data-driven solutions that are personalized, proactive, and predictive,” Chennuru said.
Rise of the Data Cloud is a podcast hosted by award-winning author and journalist Steve Hamm. For each episode, Steve speaks with a data leader to learn how they leverage the cloud to manage, share, and analyze data to drive business growth, fuel innovation, and disrupt their industries. You can listen to more episodes here.