Alumna leads efforts to match data across public health jurisdictions
“My Virginia Tech degrees have served me well. I am not just an analyst who sits around and analyzes data. I figure out how it's going to impact people and the public good," said Anne Rhodes '91, M.S. '93.
Anne Rhodes, a Virginia Tech alumna and director of the Health Data Analytics Program at Georgetown University, is changing how health departments obtain and analyze their jurisdiction's data utilizing the ATra Black Box technology.
The secure, electronic, privacy-assuring system was developed by Georgetown University to identify and confirm potential duplicate case records, exchange data, and perform other analytics to improve the quality of data in the enhanced HIV/AIDS reporting system.
“I love data and facts. Being able to analyze and really understand what data can and can't tell you is a critical part of my job,” said Rhodes, who earned her bachelor’s and master's degrees in agricultural and applied economics in 1991 and 1993, respectively.
In a partnership with Georgetown, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and public health jurisdictions, the Health Data Analytics Program has improved the accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of data on people living with HIV. The enhancements to the sharing of HIV surveillance data have reduced the time public health staff spend manually reviewing and updating critical data for measuring progress in the efforts to end the HIV epidemic.
“Health departments can receive timely data on persons with HIV that are shared with other jurisdictions, which assists in ensuring persons living with HIV are receiving timely medical care to stay healthy and prevent the spread of disease. Before, they would have to pick up the phone and call other jurisdictions to obtain these data,” Rhodes said.
The ATra Black Box takes identifiers including names, social security numbers, and dates of birth and matches them using the ATra technology which never retains any data memory,” she said.
Before joining Georgetown University, Rhodes worked at the Virginia Department of Health as deputy director for the Division of Disease Prevention. In this role, she provided oversight and quality assurance statewide for HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and hepatitis data and data management systems.
During her tenure, she designed and reviewed quality measures and reports for federal grants on HIV prevention and care iniatives along with cost and utilization forecasting for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Part of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program provides Food and Drug Administration-approved medications to low-income people with HIV. These people have limited or no health insurance. Her forecasting for this program was instrumental in securing future funding for the distribution of HIV medications.
“My work conducting forecasting on the cost of health insurance for those with HIV/AIDS was rewarding because we managed to get a lot of people health insurance that previously were not able to obtain coverage,” said Rhodes.
Virginia Tech provided Rhodes with the skills needed to pursue what she loves.
“My Virginia Tech degrees have served me well. I am not just an analyst who sits around and analyzes data. I figure out how it's going to impact people and the public good,” she said.