Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

May 05, 2013 | Tom Ballard

PYA launches fifth affiliate focused on analytics

pyaa-logo(EDITOR’S NOTE: Pershing Yoakley & Associates, sponsor of, has launched its fifth affiliate – PYA Analytics LLC. The new entity links two nationally-recognized former computer scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the expertise of PYA, the nation’s 11th largest privately-held healthcare consulting company. The full news release follows.)

Pershing Yoakley & Associates and a former Oak Ridge National Laboratory research director have launched a new company that’s bringing “big data” solutions to healthcare, business and government.

Brian Worley has joined with PYA in forming its fifth affiliate company, PYA Analytics LLC. Worley, the new firm’s CEO and president, was director of the Computational Science and Engineering Division at ORNL. PYA Analytics is located in Cherokee Mills, headquarters of PYA, the nation’s 11th largest privately-held healthcare consulting firm.

PYA President Ed Pershing said PYA Analytics is both a next step and a quantum leap in the firm’s use of state-of-the-art analytic processes. Pershing is chairman of the new company.

“At PYA, we are always striving to provide valued resources to our clients,” Pershing said. “In the early 1990s we began using data analytic tools to assist clients in improving operating performance.  Those successful efforts led us in 2000 to establish Healthcare Horizons Consulting Group, the industry leader in utilizing data analytical tools to audit large volumes of health claims without relying on sampling techniques which often are unreliable.

“Today, Healthcare Horizons serves a number of Fortune 100 companies.  Now, through PYA Analytics, we will be able to serve the healthcare industry, business and government in addressing the most challenging issues, utilizing the world’s most advanced tools and resources.

“We believe Brian’s joining with PYA to establish PYA Analytics is affirmation of the extraordinary environment we enjoy that encourages exceptional people to join us.  PYA Analytics represents the third generation in our ever evolving role as thought leaders in healthcare analytics.  We are fortunate to have Brian choose to join us as he is one of the world’s foremost experts in data analytics.

“Also, Brian’s dedicated leadership at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory formed a foundation on which PYA Analytics can build a lasting relationship with ORNL.  As responsible members of our community, we value ORNL and its critical contribution to the vitality of East Tennessee.  PYA plans to work with ORNL, the University, and others in establishing East Tennessee as a recognized leader in applied data analytics.”

The company is drawing on former ORNL talent. In addition to Worley, Edmon Begoli, former chief architect for knowledge discovery infrastructures at ORNL, is joining PYA Analytics as Chief Technology Officer, and Tom Ballard, former ORNL Director of Partnerships, will serve as Chief Operating Officer.

“I have always wanted to launch a major initiative that capitalized on the great scientific work being undertaken in Oak Ridge,” Pershing said. “PYA Analytics is that opportunity.”

Worley and Begoli will develop affordable, individual data-driven solutions for healthcare providers and businesses of all sizes.

“Billions of new electronic records and data are available and the ability to process them on all scales of computers puts powerful new tools into the hands of even the smallest businesses, practice groups, and hospitals,” Worley said.

“With the information we gather, we then can do simulation modeling to indicate the cost and effectiveness of prevention or intervention programs.”

Worley said large public and private databases can be analyzed together to predict which patients are likely to develop serious chronic conditions and which interventions have the best chance of preventing acute events such as heart attacks and strokes. Other applications, he said, will be to use data analytics to help physicians and hospitals understand the progression of diseases, like diabetes and multiple sclerosis, by tying together environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors.

Kent Bottles, MD, a nationally known speaker and physician executive that recently joined PYA, is serving as medical director. ”Big data will turn the paradigm of medicine on its head. Supplementing hypothesis-driven, randomized clinical trials with correlations from big data studies will change the way we diagnose and treat almost all diseases,” Bottles said.

Pershing said data analytics holds great promise for curbing the spiraling costs of state Medicaid programs. For the past two years, Worley and Begoli have worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to develop an infrastructure that addresses the current and future big data needs of the national healthcare systems.

“Containing Medicaid costs is a key to the success of healthcare reform,” Pershing said. “Data analytics may be the tool that can actually break – not just bend – the Medicaid cost curve by looking beyond waste and fraud to the demand for care, how it is accessed, and to education and preventative strategies.”

Worley brings 35 years of scientific leadership experience to his role at PYA Analytics. For the past 11 years, he assembled and directed the U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory system’s premier science agenda in knowledge discovery from disparate and dynamic data programs, supervising 170 research scientists and engineers. He earned a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Begoli, who has 15 years of experience in large-scale data analytic systems and applications, came to ORNL in 2007. He holds a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Colorado and is completing work on his Ph.D. degree at the University of Tennessee. Ballard, who will continue as PYA Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, joined ORNL in 2004 after retiring as UT’s Vice President for Public and Governmental Relations.