Analytics fuels Air Force efforts on preventive health care

The Air Force Medical Service, which has patient data at 75 locations in the United States and overseas, is turning to analytics software to improve patient care and support research into preventive medicine and disease management.

Led by the Air Force Surgeon General’s office, the service will deploy a global dashboard to improve operational and clinical decision support using SAS Business Intelligence and High-Performance Analytics software.

Previously, no central data warehouse or BI software could provide clinical and operational insights down to the patient level. The large volume of data also made data mining a challenge, making it difficult for clinicians with the Air Force Medical Service to comb through data to find meaningful insights.


Related stories:

Can a hot desktop cure a frozen medical network?

Crash analytics: How data can help eliminate highway deaths


The Air Force Medical Service “has lots of data all over the place” but now has a single data ecosystem and strategy to access data in real time, said Col. Albert Bonnema, chief medical information officer for the AFMS Office of the CIO.

The AFMS comprises nearly 60,000 active duty, reserve, civilian, and contract medical and support professionals. The Air Force operates 63 medical facilities in the United States and 12 at overseas locations, with more than 1,700 Air Force medical personnel in 19 countries.

Each command or hospital needs the answers specific to it. With SAS, users will be able to drill into data and customize reports to their needs, said Karen Knowles, president of SAS Federal.

“The Air Force’s widespread medical and support personnel will have one version of the truth,” Knowles said. “In addition, researchers will have powerful analytics to explore innovative preventative treatments.”

SAS Business Intelligence software will help improve the quality of care and outcomes for more than 1.2 million patients enrolled in Patient Centered Medical Home, a component of the Military Health System in which service members and their families have access to a personal provider team that helps them achieve the best health care results.

SAS High-Performance Analytics and predictive modeling will support research into preventive medicine and disease management.

SAS Enterprise BI Server and JMP statistical discovery software will help AFMS clinicians turn large amounts of data from multiple sources and formats into usable reports.


Using SAS Enterprise Miner, the company’s premier data mining tool, Air Force researchers will create predictive models related to issues such as traumatic brain injury and care of chronic conditions, like diabetes or cancer. Operational intelligence will help researchers improve understanding of emergency room patient flow at military treatment facilities, SAS officials said.

More powerful research will be possible with SAS Scoring Accelerator for Aster, a SAS In-Database solution that is part of the SAS High-Performance Analytics family integrated with the Teradata Aster Platform.

For example, USAF researchers can run a model on all 1.2 million patients to answer queries such as, “Tell me the 10 percent of diabetes patients most likely to visit the emergency room in the next two months.”

The AFMS will be the proving ground for the BI implementation, with plans to expand the system to remaining Military Health Services in the future, SAS officials said.

SAS Alliance Program member Intellicog, a health care BI and data warehousing solutions company, created the data model for the Air Force Health Services data warehouse.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above