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UNC Health Care

Transforming Data Into Insight: Establishment of a Pharmacy Analytics and Outcomes Team


Mary-Haston Vest, Pharm.D., M.S., BCPS; Ashley Pappas, Pharm.D., M.H.A.; Evan Colmenares, Pharm.D.; Scott W. Savage, Pharm.D., M.S.; Timothy Weber, R.Ph., M.B.A.; Rowell Daniels; Pharm.D., M.S.

UNC Health Care, Chapel Hill, NC

The amount of data generated in healthcare continues to rise at a significant rate, accounting for approximately 30% of the world’s data.1 Commonly called Big Data, this massive quantity of information can be leveraged to appropriately draw insights from the multitude of healthcare data sources to improve the delivery of healthcare and patient outcomes. Expertise required to transform data into actionable insight is not traditionally found in departments of pharmacy.

In response, UNC Health Care System established an embedded Pharmacy Analytics and Outcomes (PAO) team to support the operational and strategic needs of clinical, financial, and operational pharmacy services.  Once established, the team was charged with executing the vision of extending medication-use influence and data insight to drive value-based patient care outcomes while decreasing waste, optimizing therapeutic decisions, and achieving medication management standardization across the continuum of healthcare. The goal of the PAO team is to establish a system-wide pharmacy data strategy and create a reporting and analytics infrastructure that produces data-driven insights for use by administrators and front-line staff.

The presence of the PAO team has led to a culture of data-driven decision making, as evidenced through the volume of data requests, recurring reports and dashboards, and analytics-driven projects received by both leadership and front line staff. The PAO team currently supports over 150 recurring reports and dashboards, which are sent automatically to end users on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. In FY19, the PAO team completed over 700 new data requests for pharmacy end users, a 208% increase in growth over the past 3 years. Additionally, this culture has pushed the division beyond traditional operational use of data, to also using data tactically and strategically, and has allowed all hospitals within the system to benchmark against and report out on validated, actionable key performance indicators.  Full integration of the PAO team has resulted in placing actionable data in the hands of the decision makers and front-line staff to improve patient care, streamline operations, and enhance cost savings and revenue generation for the organization.

By developing a comprehensive data management strategy to enhance dissemination of impactful, aggregated pharmacy data to relevant stakeholders, pharmacy has been successful in significantly impacting the health system’s decision-making process while driving important outcomes.


  1. Huesh MD, Mosher TJ. Using it or losing it? The case for data scientists inside health care. NEJM Catalyst. Available from: