Thursday, April 16, 2015

SAS Newbie Warren Woermke Guest Posts: Taking the Pulse of the SAS Health User Group

My name is Warren Woermke, and I’m a coop student working in customer loyalty at SAS Canada. I’m on my second work term, and have been here for about 8 months now. Last week I ‘ran’ the Health User Group (my first ever) here at the SAS Toronto office, and gave my first presentation. To say I was nervous would be an understatement…though with almost 40 customers, and my manager in attendance, I would argue with good reason!

However, the good people of the Health User Group soon showed me there was no reason to be. I could not have asked for a friendlier, more receptive and welcoming group of people with which to conduct my first user group. Despite my lack of experience and, if I’m honest, technical knowledge, I did not feel at all unwelcome or alienated from the group. Some people were even kind enough to laugh at my not-so-funny jokes! (I promise to have some better lines prepared for next time). I need to say a special thanks to the HUG President, Christopher Battiston. The meeting ran extremely smoothly – in large part thanks to Chris. Not only did he make me feel welcome, he made my life easy by handling registration, introducing me to presenters, and answering one or two questions that were a little beyond me J.

The quality of the people at this meeting was only rivaled by the quality of the content. We were treated by three excellent guest presenters – Petros Pechlivanoglou from Toronto Health Economics & Technology Assessment (THETA) Collaborative, Ruth Croxford from Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), and SAS’ own Lorne Rothman. Petros provided us with an insightful look into the world of health economics – a
presentation which I felt had an excellent balance of technical insight, and less technical aspects for folks like me. Though it may have been old news to some, I was introduced to the concept of units of QALY (Quality-Adjusted Life Year), which measure a treatment not only on its ability to prolong life, but also on the quality of that life. Very cool. Ruth gave an interesting talk on inverse probability of treatment weighting using propensity scoring. Lorne gave us a look at predictive modeling in healthcare and put forth a challenging question to the group, ‘Why does healthcare rarely use it?’ During amateur hour this kid named Warren also did a quick update from SAS – but it was pretty poorly done, so there’s no need to go further into that.

All in all, this was an excellent experience – and one I’d love to repeat.


  1. Hey Warren (via Matt!) You did a fantastic job and I look forward to working with you at future sessions :-) You're presentation went really well, and I could tell people were interested in chatting with you - well done!

  2. I have been hearing the word data science and big data. And, i tried to learn some machine learning algorithms in R and concentrating on Statastics.
    My very BIG question is : I am working employee (just 2yrs exp)into Performance Testing domain and i want to shift to Analytics.
    Please help me out the way to analytics.

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