Mansi Bhat, Cal State Fullerton ISDS graduate student, holds the award she received for her research presentation at the 2018 Teradata Competition in Las Vegas.Mansi Bhat ’18 (M.S. – information systems) was honored at the Teradata Analytics University Challenge in Las Vegas earlier this fall for her research study, “Analytics Approach to Combating the Opioid Epidemic in USA,” which uses publicly available data to understand and address the rising death toll from prescription drug abuse.

When Cal State Fullerton Mihaylo College Information Systems and Decision Sciences (ISDS) graduate student Mansi Bhat ’18 learned that 115 people die each day from prescription opioid overdoses, she wanted to use her skills in data analytics to better understand and address this crisis. The victims represent all demographics of society, from globally-recognized pop stars to underprivileged residents of America’s cities and rural areas, with a combined economic impact of $78 billion to the U.S. economy.

“A case that particularly caught my attention was Prince’s doctor, who was sued for failing to appropriately evaluate, diagnose, treat and counsel the famed musician for his recognizable opioid addiction, and further failing to take appropriate and reasonable steps to prevent the foreseeably fatal result of that addiction,” she says.

Working in conjunction with ISDS Professor Rahul Bhaskar and fellow graduate student Guillermo Hernandez ’19, Bhat’s study, “Analytics Approach to Combating the Opioid Epidemic in USA,” was a winner at the Teradata Analytics University Challenge in Las Vegas, which reviewed more than 60 submissions from around the world. Bhat’s paper received the Best Use of Analytics and Visualization award for her use of advanced analytics and machine-learning algorithms to produce visual insights.

“Our objective was to build awareness, and presenting at the conference provided a platform to urge people to ask their doctors the right questions about pain management and painkiller dosages,” says Bhat. Her project involved two distinct phases: “The first phase included interviewing subject matter experts, such as doctors, surgeons and nurse practitioners, and collating the existing research on the subject. The second phase was to employ publically available prescribers’ data to perform the exploratory and predictive analyses, record the insights and provide actionable recommendations.”

Bhat created a Tableau-based dashboard, which provides an interactive snapshot of prescriber trends, while also developing a predictive model that helps to identify practitioners most likely to provide higher or more frequent doses, which in turn are correlated with higher rates of misuse and death.

She hopes her data is of practical benefit to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and other organizations seeking solutions to the crisis, a major contributor to the most pronounced decline in U.S. life expectancy since World War I and the 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish flu) in the second decade of the 20th century.Mansi Bhat, a Cal State Fullerton ISDS graduate student, presents her research on analytics looking at the opioid epidemic at the Teradata Competition in Las Vegas in fall 2018.

How to Succeed in Data Analytics

As she enters her career, Bhat aims to become a data science consultant working with clients and stakeholders to help an organization make informed decisions using today’s analytical tools.

“This goal requires strong technical skills and sound knowledge of business concepts,” she says. She points to the guidance of faculty members such as Bhaskar, the college’s curriculum that provides a well-rounded introduction to the concepts of the subject, career development activities, club activities and library database resources.

Bhat advises other students seeking to pursue academic or professional development in the ISDS field to focus on three Ts: tools, technique and tale.

“Tools, such as Tableau, R/Python and Alteryx, help you digest the data. The knowledge of techniques, such as concepts of analytics, machine learning and data mining, help drive insights,” she says. “Finally, the art of telling a tale with data helps simplify and provide context to the complex analysis you just performed. I would urge anyone interested in pursuing this field to participate in competitions; join clubs such as BDAC; network with professors, fellow students, alumni and professionals; and use the insights to differentiate yourself.”

For More on ISDS

Seeking a future in information systems? Mihaylo College offers undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare students for careers in such in-demand fields as data analytics, decision sciences and information technology. For more information, visit the Mihaylo College ISDS department website.

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