This article was originally published in the Spring 2013 edition of OnAnalytics, published by the Institute for Business Analytics at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.
This article focuses on insights from Natalie Basich, a 2013 MBA graduate majoring in Finance and Business Analytics. This article is based on Natalie’s experiences during an internship with a major health care insurer in the Midwest.
Many industries face the challenges of big data and an ever-expanding number of applications, databases, and data warehouses. But the health care industry and health care insurers grapple with a unique set of tests. Once collectors of information, health care insurance companies now use data to make informed decisions, and they do so in a rapidly changing regulatory environment.
During her internship, Natalie Basich worked with a major health care insurance company to analyze how its retail centers were performing. The company wanted a more robust financial model that pulled multiple years of data and allowed it to view sales projections as well as assess past, current, and potential performance.
What were the steps taken to complete the project?
I spent time with the current financial model to understand, line by line, what was used to develop the forecasting numbers. Then I talked to the stakeholders—the developer of the model, my manager, different department heads—to understand what their goals were, what the model would be used for, who would be using it, and what mix of products I needed to consider along with the associated contribution margins, for each market.
Once I built the model, I reviewed it with my manager and the finance team. My analysis not only looked at the retail center program as a whole but also included market level analysis. Through that financial model, the company could evaluate the drivers of value for each market and see what was making the most impact on profitability.
How would you address challenges with data in future projects?
You have to know who to ask and be persistent in getting what you need. I discovered that when you develop relationships, you get information faster and easier. You also need to fully understand the end goal of the data and how it will be used so you can best present your results.
How would you address challenges in applying analytic techniques in future projects?
Explicitly list all assumptions you’ve made, so they are clear to both you and senior management and you can easily update information without having to question the model. I would also add, to always think about the “so what?” Why does the information and analysis matter? That answer will help you present your findings in the best way.
How did your courses at Kelley prepare you for this project?
I knew the right analytical tools to use and what you can do with data once you have it. It’s not just about going into the analytics; it’s about asking the right questions and not being afraid to ask them over and over again.
What did you learn from this experience?From my internship, I learned that it takes longer to understand what is needed and gather it from different parts of the organization than to analyze the data. Relationships and the right approach are key to speeding up the process. Data is a big buzzword in health care and this internship helped me develop competitive skills.
Since I’ll be working in the health care field after graduation, I’ll be able to take those lessons directly into my job and my career. And I’m excited about this field. There are huge changes coming in regulation, and I like the idea of being a part of solving the challenges behind the changes.