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Mayo Clinic collaboration with OptumHealth to spin off new technologies

Dan Emerson on October 16, 2013

For those hoping to use data analytics as a tool to help improve the U.S. healthcare system, patient records represent a potential gold mine of information to identify the most effective and cost-efficient practices to diagnose and treat specific conditions.

As part of a new partnership, the Mayo Clinic's Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery and OptumHealth (a United Healthcare company) have assembled a patient-care database that is unprecedented in scope.

They have formed Optum Labs, billed as the first open-innovation center in the healthcare industry. Optum Labs will use claims and clinical data to answer pressing health questions. It will use a database that includes 149 million patient records from UNH, electronic medical records covering 5 million lives from Mayo Clinic, and 12 million electronic medical records from Humedica.

Speaking at the recent StrataRx conference in Boston, Optum Labs CEO Paul Bleicher, M.D., Ph.D., said Cambridge, Mass.-based Optum will use advanced analytics and data visualization techniques to support research and innovation projects that will improve patient care and lower cost.

The new partnership of Mayo Clinic and OptumHealth also represents a source of new opportunities for healthcare entrepreneurs, said Bleicher, who expects new health IT companies to emerge from this effort. "That is one of the goals," Bleicher said. "We want to develop technologies and innovations that could be spun off into companies, in collaboration with venture capitalists."

He said Optum Labs is actively seeking other partners and "accepting applications from anybody doing research who is willing to do so with complete transparency, in a non-commercial fashion." The mission is "very public, publication research that will advance the cause of healthcare and anyone who participates." Influencing healthcare policymakers is also one of the goals, he said.

Another priority of Optum Labs is enlisting "new partners who will bring additional data of high value," Bleicher said. "We want other payers - and everybody - to be in the tent, because if all of the data is in one place, there is opportunity to dive deep into it." It will also be important that "the findings don't stay stuck in 'silos' but are distributed widely, so they become valuable for more than just a few organizations."

The cost of some of the projects Optum Labs undertakes could be shared by National Institutes of Health grants or by partnering with life sciences or IT companies, Bleicher added.

Mark Hayward, administrator of Mayo Clinic's Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, said there will be "information technology that will come out of our labs that will spin off new technologies and methodologies."

"There is a lot to do," he said. "We are at the infancy of comparative-effectiveness research and in the infancy of being accepted by payers, formulary committees, et cetera. There is a ton of methodology that needs to be worked out to make this become the equivalent of clinical trials."

"By bringing together many different constituencies interested in working on important problems, we have a chance to solve problems in a way that works for everybody," Hayward said.

[Photo by - Victor1558]

Category:  Ideation  Creation  Execution  Growth  Tags:  Entrepreneur, Startup, Healthcare, HealthIT, Innovation

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