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Shining a Light on the Opioid Epidemic at Gartner's Analytics and BI Bake Off

MicroStrategy was recently invited to take part in Gartner’s fourth annual Analytics and BI Bake Off. The goal of the event was to bring the analytics community together to shine a light on one of the biggest challenges facing America today - the opioid epidemic.

Click on the live dossier below to interact with the data. You may switch between pages on the dossier, filter, drill, and can even share the dossier via email or as a PDF.

The four vendors, MicroStrategy, Tableau, Qlik, and Microsoft, were given the same public data set. Gartner provided Medicaid claims data, overdose data, state population data, and prescriber data. To make things more interesting, we also blended in some socioeconomic data to help find some additional insights.

After a one-year hiatus, I was personally excited to be back in the Bake Off serving up findings for MicroStrategy. As always, the Bake Off is divided into sections to showcase capabilities around everything from ease of use, to wrangling data, to creating content, to large-scale distribution of content.

The first round of demonstrations were around ease of use. We highlighted some exciting new features including the MicroStrategy Library. Our ability to provide intelligent recommendations of content, as well as deep search capabilities, were on display in finding content relevant to the opioid epidemic and then further analyzing the problem.

In part two, we focused on getting data into our dossier and wrangling/data preparation. Unique from other vendors, we used an intelligent clustering model based on phonetic analysis of the words in the dataset to automatically cleanse the data as it was imported into MicroStrategy. We also demonstrated our ability to automatically detect and join datasets as we added population data to the opioid dataset. This allowed us to normalize the data by population to aid our analysis.

In part three, we used our new natural language query feature to build the dashboard. Simply by typing ‘Show Me Overdoses Per 100K People by State’ and ‘Top 10 Drug Companies by Medicaid Reimbursement,’ we demonstrated how analysts can easily generate visualizations. We then continued to build additional content using our intuitive drag and drop interface. Once we had a dashboard ready to share, we published it to the Library. From there, we showed how users can have a conversation about the data via MicroStrategy’s collaboration interface.

Click here to interact with the live MicroStrategy dossier.


In part four, to show how to distribute content to users outside the normal BI ecosystem, we created both schedule-based and alert-based subscriptions. The benefit of this feature is that the data can be shared via Excel, PDF, or an interactive .mstr file that any user can open with our free MicroStrategy Desktop.

The last section of the demo was MicroStrategy’s chance to highlight our open ecosystem of APIs. We started with our Alexa integration by asking ‘which state has the highest prescription rate?’ Alexa responded, ‘Alabama has highest prescription rate with 44,841 prescriptions per 100,000 people.’

Then we posed a follow up question to the audience. “What if you don’t know what question to ask?” This lead us to our demo of “inline analytics”, a new capability of MicroStrategy that scans through any web page or browser application like SharePoint, and highlights key data points with pop-up info windows, and delivers further insight.


In the short time we had to collect and analyze data, below are some conclusions (see them in our dossier here):

(1)   Pharmaceutical payments to doctors do not affect prescription rates. We were curious whether the data would show a correlation between pharmaceutical company payments to doctors and their rates of prescription. In fact, we found no such correlation. In other words, there is no evidence that direct payments to doctors result in higher prescription rates.  

(2)   State GDP and opioid usage are inversely correlated. There seems to be a correlation between state GDP and opioid usage as measured by Medicaid claims. States with lower GDPs tend to have higher opioid usage. This confirms that the opioid epidemic has economic factors.

(3)   State college education rates and opioid usage are inversely correlated. There also seems to be a correlation between college education and opioid use as measured by Medicaid claims, but not a similar correlation for high school graduation rates. In other words, states with higher rates of upper education (college or beyond) tend to have lower rates of opioid use, but this doesn't apply to high school education.

While MicroStrategy, Tableau, Qlik, and Microsoft often face each other as competitors, this was a fantastic opportunity for us to come together and showcase the ability of our products to be used to help better understand some of the challenges facing our communities.

To see highlights of our work at the 2018 Bake Off, click here. Ready to do more with data? Use our free MicroStrategy Desktop to find your own insights.    

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