publication date: Jun. 21, 2019

Real World Evidence

How a Flatiron hackathon team linked Medicaid expansion with reduction in racial disparities in time to cancer treatment

By Matthew Bin Han Ong

Last December, Flatiron Health convened a “hackathon,” an event where programmers, developers, and scientists pitch novel ideas and aggressively crunch data in a competitive sprint.

These events, also known as hackfests or codefests, are a staple of tech culture. No two hackathons are the same, and at that particular Flatiron event—the company’s 18th—35 teams were challenged to find the best uses for real world data in solving real world problems.

One team, led by health economist and pharmacoepidemiologist Blythe Adamson, proposed using Flatiron’s database to ask two big questions:

Does the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion program reduce disparities between black and white patients?

Are black patients with metastatic cancer getting timely treatment, compared to white patients, in states that implemented the expansion?

Adamson et al. dove into the company’s vat of data and emerged with the answers—Medicaid expansion is indeed associated with a significant reduction in racial disparities in states that implemented it.

Six months later, the team’s project would become the most-discussed plenary session at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago. The study comes at a time of continued opposition to Obamacare by congressional Republicans. The broad health care reform initiative narrowly avoided a repeal in 2017, with three Senate Republicans defying their party’s efforts to end the ACA without an immediate replacement program.

After the results were presented at ASCO, Democrats on Capitol Hill promptly took to Twitter to highlight Adamson’s study.

“The Affordable … Continue reading How a Flatiron hackathon team linked Medicaid expansion with reduction in racial disparities in time to cancer treatment

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Copyright (c) 2018 The Cancer Letter Inc.