Podcast: How Analytics Changed Casinos & Could Change Healthcare

Jack Murtha
OCTOBER 26, 2018


For all its technological progress, healthcare is still not where it needs to be, especially when it comes to the patient experience. Healthcare decision makers seem to understand that the path forward requires some focus on big data and analytics. But how can the industry leverage these technologies to produce real-world, tangible improvements for patients?

The answer to that question might have roots in the Las Vegas strip, of all places.

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Sounds crazy? Let’s rewind to 1997, when Harrah’s Entertainment launched what would become its Total Rewards customer loyalty program. The initiative was supposed to keep gamblers happy when they were in the casino and eager to come back — even after they lose their shirts.

But how would Total Rewards pull this off? Data. A lot of data and analytics-driven insights. By collecting troves of customer information, the Total Rewards program enabled Harrah’s — eventually known as Caesars Entertainment — to understand its guests’ preferences, habits and more. The loyalty program empowered casino operators to enhance the customer experience by providing comps and enhanced their direct marketing.

Eventually, the Total Rewards data set received a valuation of $1 billion.

The gaming industry, of course, has leveraged data and analytics better than many fields. From casino floor design to security, high-tech number crunching has helped the industry get through challenging times of consolidation and heavy regulation.

So, what can healthcare learn from casinos?

On this episode of Data Book, we talk to Sunny Tara, who co-founded and runs the health-tech startup CareCognitics, whose primary focus is the patient loyalty. Tara is a gaming technology veteran, with executive experience at Harrah’s and Caesars and more. He also founded and sold the physician network docBeat.

“Why can’t healthcare do the same?” he asks. “Why can’t healthcare create loyalty through positive patient experience?”

Perhaps it can. Tune in to this episode of Data Book to hear the story of Total Rewards and Tara’s thoughts on what healthcare draw from gaming to improve the patient experience.

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