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1/4/2021

Dalton Fabian

Dalton Fabian

Pharm.D., R.Ph.

Data Science Analyst

UnityPoint Health

West Des Moines, IA

His Story

Dr. Fabian earned his PharmD and data analytics minor from Drake University in Des Moines, IA. He serves as a Data Science Analyst at UnityPoint Health in West Des Moines, IA. In addition to his work at UnityPoint Health, Dalton works as a PRN Pharmacist at UCS Healthcare, an organization specializing in mental healthcare and substance abuse treatment, dispensing and counseling patients receiving methadone and Suboxone therapy. Dalton also writes about health data science on his Medium blog, The Data Science Pharmacist.

In his role, Dalton utilizes machine learning to improve clinical care, promote value-based care, and assist in strategic planning within a large health system. His team’s work has been featured in the national press and most recently won the Creative Technology Solution of the Year in the 2020 Prometheus Awards hosted by the Technology Association of Iowa. Dalton is passionate about helping more pharmacists find roles in data science. He is also active in the Iowa Pharmacy Association and American Pharmacists Association in addition to ASHP.

Overview of Facility/Health System

UnityPoint Health is the 13th largest non-profit health system in the US with locations in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. UnityPoint Health has 21 regional hospitals, 19 community network hospitals, 400+ clinics, 32,000+ team members, 4 health professional schools, mental health centers, and home health/hospice locations. The system sees more than 1 million unique patients each year with more than 7 million patient visits across all areas of care. UnityPoint is heavily involved in a number of different Accountable Care Organizations, covering more than 390,000 lives through these contracts.

Significant Projects

The data science team at UnityPoint builds and supports a number of machine learning models and associated tools used throughout the system. Current models include hospital readmissions predictions (overall risk and day-by-day risk), length of stay predictions, patient appointment no show predictions, nursing turnover predictions, and hospital/emergency room future utilization predictions.

During the most recent project, Dalton worked to build a patient identification tool for the system-wide care management program. Prior to this project, care managers used various reports and third-party tools to identify which patients would benefit from additional care. Dalton helped build a machine learning model to identify patients who were expected to utilize the hospital and emergency room in the future, worked with care managers to identify pain points in their current process, and built a new all-in-one platform for more efficient patient identification. Recently, this project has started to expand to other non-care manager roles like care coordinators and pharmacists.

Initial Involvement in ASHP

I'm currently involved in the SOPIT Professional Development Section Advisory Group. This is my first year in a SAG and I have enjoyed the experience so far working with a great group of pharmacists from different technology backgrounds. We are working on resources to educate pharmacy professionals about robotic process automation and artificial intelligence.

Advice for Someone New to Your Specialty Area

For anyone looking to get into data science, learning to program, networking, and an eagerness to learn are core competencies. Programming is a large part of the data science and machine learning process so learning languages like SQL and R/Python will help you to be successful in this role. Networking will help you to find opportunities and get a job in data science. Data science is a newer field, so making personal connections goes a long way. Try connecting with data scientists at your local health systems, if there are any, to learn more about the job. I got my current role through meeting and keeping in touch with, at the time, the only Data Scientist that was at UnityPoint. Data science and machine learning are always changing as new technologies and cloud computing offerings are being developed, so eagerness to learn and being adaptable are key for data scientists.

Why did you become involved in ASHP? 

I became involved in ASHP because I saw the organization as the primary association that catered to pharmacy professionals who work in technology - no other association placed as great of an emphasis on this area of practice. I also knew a number of fellow pharmacy technologists who were involved in ASHP and learned about the opportunities that were available to get involved in committees and SAGs.

How would you explain the value of ASHP to a friend or colleague?

ASHP is an awesome resource to meet and stay in touch with pharmacy leaders, including pharmacy leaders in technology specifically. SAGs and meetings give you the opportunity to meet people you otherwise wouldn't like I have in my first year as a SAG member. From a discussion with the group leader of our workgroup, I even got a recommendation for a machine learning library to use for a project we had at work. ASHP is one of only a few places something like that could happen.

What is the value of ASHP for the profession?

I think ASHP will continue to lead in gathering leaders in pharmacy technology. Much as the technology aspect of pharmacy has grown in the past decade or two, I believe there is an incredible amount of growth that will be happening in the near future. ASHP is primed to continue to lead in that area. ASHP also offers those collaborations through SAGs to prepare the profession for the future.

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