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Why Nobody Believes the Numbers: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction in Population Health Management Hardcover – June 26, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118313186
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118313183
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“It’s rare that a book about mathematics is funny. And this is not just any math: It’s population health analysis. This is the stuff that employers, benefit managers, CFOs and many others want to know: how to figure out if an intervention “worked” and reduced costs.”—Employee Benefit News

“Do yourself a favor and buy this book.  And, keep it handy the next time you entertain a DM/wellness proposal or examine data submitted to you by your vendor.  You will never read those proposals or reports the same way again”—Khanna on Health

“Digital Health Book of the Year”—Forbes

From the Back Cover

"This is a must-read for anyone involved in developing policy or making purchase decisions on programs that try to improve health and save money."

—Bob Galvin, Chief Executive Officer, Equity Healthcare (Blackstone Group); co-founder, Leapfrog Group; founder, Bridges to Excellence

"Lewis sugarcoats the bitter medicine of math with a generous amount of humor, making this the most painless lesson in outcomes analysis ever published. The lesson: trust your own judgment."

—Tom Scully, former Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Senior Counsel, Alston & Bird; Partner, Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe

"Lewis has single-handedly created what industry committees have failed to create: a how-to guide for valid outcomes analysis."

—Warren Todd, former President and Executive Director, the Care Continuum Alliance

Make better health care decisions by understanding your own data

Behind every health plan and benefits department decision are the numbers that illuminate and drive the cost of coverage. An easy-to-follow guide to population health management, Why Nobody Believes the Numbers helps you interpret these numbers, explains why and how "experts" often make them up, and shows that you don't need to rely on expensive—and as the hilarious examples show, often numerically challenged—consultants and vendors to do evaluations. Why Nobody Believes the Numbers gives you the tools to:

  • Figure out whether you are "moving the needle" or just crediting a program with changes that would have happened anyway
  • Determine whether the ROIs your vendors report are plausible or even arithmetically possible (the majority aren't)
  • Synthesize all these insights into RFPs and contracts that let vendors know that you weren't born yesterday

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Lewis writes in an intelligent and eloquent style, with the unexpected addition of humor and sarcasm.
Brigitte Wangberg
In another example from the book, Al Lewis points out how some in the industry use a pre/post comparison of cardiac event spending.
Steven Reichenstein
I am in the health & wellness business and found this book to be very informative and thought provoking.
Calvin Schadt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the founders of my organization(The Leapfrog Group) recommended this book so I bought it expecting to plow through a dense analysis on measuring health outcomes. Okay, this is my field, but I expected the book to be work not entertainment. I was wrong. My 5 year old wanted a turn reading the book because every time I picked it up I was truly LOL. Honestly this guy is every bit as funny as Dave Barry!

Once the laughter subsided though I reread the book to figure out what the point was, and that is when I realized how important this is to health care, particularly for employers investing in health benefits, including taxpayers. Many programs in wellness and disease management are not working as advertised, and Al Lewis shows us how we got snowed to think they were. What makes me mad is to think of the money wasted on all this. We do not have extra money for fruitless adventures in health care!

So this is a terrific read and game changing.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Archelle Georgiou on October 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Why Nobody Believes The Numbers is an excellent book that I wish I had ten years ago when I was the Chief Medical Officer of UnitedHealthcare and trying to calculate the ROI of disease management programs. Looking back, demanding this logical methodology/approach from ourselves and from our vendors would have quickly identified whether we were making a difference in the cost and care of patients. And, ultimately, we could have saved insurers and employers LOTS of money since most programs don't generate an ROI and we would have either not implemented them at all or quickly shut them down. Instead, we maintained them with the false hope that they were decreasing medical costs. Thank goodness this book is so darn funny...or else I'd cry at all the time and money we wasted.

Also, the principles in this book ALSO apply to the ROI analysis of other health management services: apps/games, wellness/prevention programs services, ACOs/Patient Centered Medical Homes, etc etc. The title (....Distinguishing Fact from Fiction in Population Health Management) is too limited...maybe he can edit that in the 2nd edition.

Bottom line: This book should be required reading for investors, employers, health care executives, insurers, and entrepreneurs....or at least for the smart ones that aren't afraid of intellectual integrity and value truth.

Why Nobody Believes the Numbers: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction in Population Health Management
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By RJF in Illinois on August 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Al Lewis managed to squeeze several categories of lessons into this book, all of which make it worth reading. Other reviews have extolled the virtues of Al's dive into wellness and DM so I'm going to focus on three benefits that I got from reading it, all of which are likely good reasons for you to read it.
First, he forced me to realize that my statistical thinking had become very lazy. It wasn't that I was falling for statistics that could not pass a plausibility test but I had stopped thinking about why they didn't pass. A few chapters into this and I felt like my edge had been reset.
Second, the book teaches a very simple lesson in business and life: it is not easy to deliver great results. The claims made by some of the DM companies are humorous but no more humorous than claims made by many companies in many industries. Let this be a lesson on similar chicanery going on all around us. The claims are similar to promises that led to truth in advertising yet we probably miss it more often than we see it.
Finally, results do not happen overnight. Change takes time. It needs to be thought through, It costs money. It has to accommodate human behavior and differences. The Highmark, BlackBox and Quantum examples all support that simple conclusion but it is a conclusion that we often skip in favor of a 350% cost improvement in Year 1.
I enjoyed the book and will recommend it within healthcare to make smarter buyers and users and outside of healthcare to give others an example of the kinds of examples they should be watching for in their own industries.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Elena Avramov on July 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This books offers one of the only truthful accounts of disease management today. All other reports and studies available focus on successful programs. This book actually breaks down the difficulty of measuring results and implementing change. There are of course several accounts of successes, but learning from the failures is just as crucial. The one thing that struck me most was that we should stop being fooled into thinking that quick, easy fixes will make an impact. Successful programs are actually very complex and take years to put into place. This book is a must-read for anyone in the healthcare industry, particular students, employers/HR and consultants.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mitch Greenberg on July 2, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The most respected and successful guy in the field (full disclosure: I know him and like most of the cognoscenti in this field, have great respect for him) is "breaking ranks" with the industry to acknowledge in a rigorous manner, albeit with world-class humor-writing in places, that vendor and consultant outcomes claims are a joke perpetrated on the HR departments. Claims range from invalid to hilarious to impossible to dishonest to criminal (the North Carolina Medicaid section is a page-turner), and even the "official" guidelines have an obviously self-serving bias towards overstating savings. Why Nobody Believes the Numbers isn't going to make Al any friends among the true believers, and I would expect to see more reviews like the one by Krishna, flamethrowers who can't handle the truth. Fact is, not a single wellness/DM savings claim made by a single vendor is checked for basic plausibility, and I'm sure Krishna's is no different, which is why he's acting out -- anonymously, of course. If Krishna is so smart why didn't he claim the $10,000 reward for finding a mistake in the book?
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