"One of the biggest challenges is linking all information together across all these different sources," says Lammers. "We've made very heavy investments in master data management. We invested early on, and we've been through two or three iterations."
Express Scripts also created what Lammers calls a federated analytics model that includes a business analytics team embedded in each key functional operation, such as supply chain, sales and finance. A single data warehouse and centralized data governance are two other keys to the company's analytics success, he says. "With a centralized core, everyone is looking at the same data," Lammers notes.
With a proven data governance model and a data management foundation in place, Express Scripts recently expanded into predictive analytics, introducing an application called Screen Rx that's designed to reduce the problem of patient non-adherence to prescriptions for chronic conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol. At a cost of more than $317 billion annually, non-adherence is the most expensive healthcare-related problem in the U.S., according to Express Scripts.
For example, skipping doses of a prescribed cholesterol medication might trigger heart attacks for some patients. Using predictive modeling based on 400 factors, such as a patient's location, family situation and the number of medications involved, Express Scripts can now identify, and proactively intervene with, patients who are likely to skip doses. Interventions might include a timely reminder to the patient to take his medication or a referral to a patient assistance program to help him pay for his medications. A third option is a referral to a clinical pharmacist who can assist with questions or concerns about a drug's side effects.
"This is really one of the key things we've been building to -- to change behavior," says Lammers. He adds that striving to foster healthy behaviors in patients is especially important in light of impending healthcare reform as millions of people gain access to consistent healthcare for the first time.
"We have to train them to take care of themselves," he says. "When we can put Screen Rx into a population that hasn't had consistent access to healthcare, we can get them to get the right stuff right away."
The win: Fuel savings and better driver safety
Transportation and logistics giant UPS, which has annual revenue of $54 billion, invests roughly $1 billion per year in IT, and a very hefty portion of that is devoted to data analytics, according to Juan Perez, vice president of information services. The goal -- for now -- is to improve business processes, cut costs, and increase efficiency.
The effort has been a success. By analyzing a continuous stream of sensor data from its thousands of delivery trucks, the global company has eliminated 5.3 million miles from its routes, reduced engine idling time by almost 10 million minutes, saved 650,000 gallons of fuel and reduced its carbon emissions by more than 6,500 metric tons.
At the heart of these eye-popping metrics is ORION, which stands for On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation, a data-intensive system that lays out the most efficient routes for individual drivers to deliver their loads via a series of complex algorithms. Additionally, the system taps into the mountain of sensor data to predict when a truck part might fail so that preventive maintenance can be scheduled and completed.