Mayo Clinic launches data-sharing lab

Will share clinical and claims data with Optum
By Erin McCann
07:42 AM
Mayo Clinic

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have teamed up with Optum, the health IT unit of UnitedHealth, to launch a collaborative research and development facility where both clinical and claims data will be shared for the aim of improving patient care, officials announced Tuesday.

Based in Cambridge, Mass., the for-profit Optum Labs facility will bring together some 5 million clinical records from Mayo Clinic and combine them with Optum's data claims arm. Both groups will make their information assets, technologies, knowledge tools and scientific expertise available to organizations interested in pursuing practical new solutions to patient care challenges. 
 
"We will be able to better understand health care delivery over time, compare the effectiveness of care we provide today, and analyze the total cost of care for specific procedures or diseases,” said Veronique Roger, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, in a company press release. 
 
 
On a Tuesday press call, Roger used the example of heart failure to further explain the significance of this data-sharing collaboration. "Right now, we are at a little bit of a loss to predict what causes hospital admissions with heart failure," she said. Although researchers have a sense of what some of the triggers are, many of these triggers are not what Roger called "actionable." For example, increasing age is a known factor associated with higher hospital admissions, "but it's hardly something that can be acted upon."
 
"By having a data source that links claims data to clinical data, what we get is really the ability to go from a snapshot in the history of care of a disease like heart failure to a complete panorama because we then are able to piece together the care in the clinical facility, such as Mayo Clinic, to what happens after the patient gets dismissed from that care facility and goes back to his or her own care environment," she said. 
 
This data, she continued, will enable researchers "to have much more powerful modeling of the events," such as predictors for hospital admissions. 
 
"This work combining clinical and claims data is the largest effort of this type in the country," said John Noseworthy, MD, president and chief executive officer of Mayo Clinic, on Tuesday's press call. "We'll be able to better understand healthcare delivery over time, compare the effectiveness of care and analyze the total cost of care for specific procedures or diseases." 
 

Projects lab researchers are currently working on include measuring the optimal treatments for the blood cancer chronic myelogenous leukemia, developing applications that measure the relative cost effectiveness of medical devices, analyzing how to improve the diagnosis of Hepatitis C and further understanding health disparities among the elderly population. 

The facility, adjacent to the MIT campus, opened within the last several months, and officials anticipate it will have some 60 staff members consisting of research scientists and clinicians by end of year.