Right now, data is a big topic – in Washington D.C., in our jobs, and in our lives. It's about time it became a big topic for us.

We have often played at a disadvantage, those of us in human resources and benefits. Data has not been our strong suit, and unless that changes, the PPACA will probably fail. A key challenge in healthcare is transparency – or a lack thereof – and managing the data is the key competency for the future. Ever heard of reference-based pricing? Data-based transparency tools? Without heavy computing power, you never would.

Why are we so behind? It all started when computers first arrived in our offices, as the computers arrived late. We were the last department to get computers, behind operations, finance, marketing, the receptionist, yadda, yadda. Pretty much everyone else got automated before us, and when we finally did get our computers, they often had stickers and graffiti on them from other departments. No respect.

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