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Optum Labs Adds Seven Charter Members

February 20, 2014
by David Raths
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‘Big data’ collaborative seeks to boost comparative effectiveness research

Optum Labs, a collaborative research and innovation center founded by health services organization Optum and Mayo Clinic, has added seven new charter members. The announcement follows the recent addition of AARP as founding consumer advocate organization of the collaborative.

The new partners are:

  • American Medical Group Association, Alexandria, Va.
  • Boston University School of Public Health, Boston
  • Lehigh Valley Health Network, Allentown, Pa.
  • Pfizer Inc., New York
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, N.Y.
  • Tufts Medical Center, Boston
  • University of Minnesota School of Nursing, Minneapolis

Optum Labs participants will have access to information resources, proprietary analytical tools and scientific expertise to help drive the discovery of new applications, testing of new care pathways and other opportunities to drive innovation in wellness and care delivery, the organization said.

“Partnering with Optum Labs gives us access to unparalleled data sources for observational comparative effectiveness research, and enables Tufts Medical Center to bring new findings to its patient population and the broader health care system,” said David Kent, M.D., M.S., director of the Predictive Analytics and Comparative Effectiveness (PACE) Center in the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center, in a prepared statement.

More than 20 research initiatives are currently underway at Optum Labs, including studies that compare results from randomized clinical trials to analyses of observational data; the effectiveness of various medical devices; research into geographic variation in care patterns; and the most effective approaches to consumer engagement and treatment.

Optum Labs was one of the subjects of a February 2014 Healthcare Informatics article about cross-industry collaborations.

As Paul Bleicher, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of Optum Labs, mentioned in that article, the effort is starting to generate interesting insights, with two peer-reviewed papers already accepted for publication.

And because Mayo is an early and active participant, it can quickly bring to its clinical setting new insights about issues such as anticoagulant usage and hip and knee replacements.  An example of the work being done is a focus on better predictions of which patients with congestive heart failure will be readmitted to the hospital.

“You also have to realize that putting data together is just the first step,” Bleicher told HCI. “Ideas about causalities and pathways are actually just ways to generate hypotheses. You have to do the big science work to know what you are looking at, because there are many errors you can make going on assumptions.”