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Sep 15, 2020

An Internship in Health Care: Using Data to Expand Care

By Reid Hansen T'21

This summer I was excited to work with Easterseals, a 100-year-old organization that remains relevant in the modern health care landscape as it serves children, seniors, and disabled individuals. I came away from the experience with new insight into the role organizations like Easterseals play in the U.S. health care system, as well as the value of national health program data.

When Easterseals was founded, health insurance companies as we know them today did not exist. Doctors practiced in their own homes and charged a direct fee. Fast forward to today and Medicare and Medicaid programs cost over 1 trillion annually. Public attention to the high cost of health care has renewed interest in Easterseal’s history of practical, community-oriented care. In an effort to reduce national health expenses, some policymakers think a solution lies in avoiding expensive medical events by implementing community-based preventative services, much like those that Easterseals has offered for many years.

My responsibility this summer involved relying on federal databases to better understand the market for services that Easterseals excels at and to consider whether these services could be expanded to other regions eager to make health care improvements. I believe Easterseals will continue to play an increasingly important role in partnerships that help children, seniors, and disabled individuals access healthy lifestyles. This research intends to help open a new funding stream to support services for seniors who do not qualify for Medicaid, but can’t afford private pay—individuals who are just a “penny above” the qualifying thresholds for the Medicaid program.

Lastly, my use of U.S. health data over the course of my internship reminded me of just how much information the health care industry has at its disposal. Some national agencies are skilled at curating and publishing data in a private but useful way. A remaining challenge is making them “digestible” by a variety of technology platforms—perhaps fodder for a future analytics discussion here at Tuck.

 


 

Elisabeth Sum

Before Tuck, Reid worked as a consultant for government and health care organizations, a manager during a technology market entry, and an operations lead for a new Medicare Advantage health plan. Following a first year enjoying Tuck programs, especially a First-Year Project with a great team focused on social determinants of health within the Medicaid community, Reid spent the summer with Easterseals, a national non-profit organization, and Firefly Health, a start-up primary care company. Professional interests after Tuck include health care reimbursement and data products. Reid received his BA from Middlebury College.