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Industry Insight

Optum, Mayo Clinic Collaborate on Data Mining Project

Optum and the Mayo Clinic recently launched Optum Labs, an open, collaborative research and development facility with the goal of improving patient care. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Optum Labs provides an environment where the healthcare industry can come together to combine information and ideas that benefit patients today while also driving long-term improvements in the delivery and quality of care.

Optum and the Mayo Clinic will make their information assets, technologies, knowledge tools, and scientific expertise available to organizations interested in pursuing practical new solutions to patient care challenges. The Mayo Clinic also will contribute valuable insights directly from patient experiences.

The Mayo Clinic’s extensive clinical expertise will be instrumental in guiding Optum Labs’ research agenda and applying research results and insights directly to the patient care environment. Combining the clinic’s extensive clinical insights with Optum’s healthcare claims information will help doctors better understand all aspects of the patient care experience and refine approaches to care that consistently help patients achieve the best outcomes. Other Optum Labs participants will include academic institutions, life sciences companies, commercial and government payers, and other care providers.

With the combined insights of Optum, Mayo, and other partners, Optum Labs will be able to support patient care improvements in many areas, such as finding optimal treatments for conditions in a given setting, understanding variations in care, and examining the effectiveness of patient care programs and approaches.

Using the rich data and other resources of Optum Labs, scientists will address a broad range of opportunities to improve care for patients. Examples of the work of Optum Labs scientists include measuring the best 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 increasing the understanding of health disparities among the elderly.

— Source: UnitedHealth Group


EHRs With Technical Assistance Can Improve Patient Care

The relationship between a physician practice’s adoption of EHRs and quality improvements in patient care remains unclear. However, a new study, published in the January issue of Health Affairs, by Weill Cornell Medical College and the Primary Care Information Project (PCIP) of the New York City Health Department shows evidence that EHR implementation can improve patient care in small physician practices in New York City when combined with sustained high-intensity technical assistance.

To evaluate the effects EHRs have on patient care within small physician practices, the research team used an independent data source using multipayer medical claims in New York State (New York Quality Alliance), linking the data to small practices enrolled in the PCIP. The initiative provided subsidized EHR software with clinical decision support and on-site technical assistance to 3,300 physicians at 600 primary care practices in underserved neighborhoods helping disadvantaged populations to improve quality of care.

The research study found EHR implementation alone was not enough to improve patient care overall or known “EHR sensitive” quality improvement measures, such as cancer screenings and diabetes care. In fact, the researchers reported it took physician practices a minimum of nine months of EHR exposure, combined with eight or more technical assistance visits, to demonstrate any significant statistical improvements in certain key quality measures, including breast cancer and colorectal cancer screenings, retinal exam and urine testing for diabetes patients, and chlamydia screening for women. Physician offices with minimal or no technical support did not show any significant improvements, even when these practices had been using EHRs for up to two years.

“EHRs were once thought to be a cure-all for helping improve patient care, but there are implementation issues, and the technology has a steep learning curve,” says lead author Andrew M. Ryan, PhD, an assistant professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College. “Our study shows EHRs can in fact be a tool for quality improvement but not in isolation. Technical assistance must be at the heart of the EHR implementation process. Underresourced, small physician practices, especially those taking care of underserved populations, need help to effectively use EHR technology to improve patient quality of care.”

The researchers say it will be important to continue evaluating the effectiveness of various levels of technical support provided by regional extension centers in improving health outcomes.

The study findings are consistent with other research showing that EHRs alone do not consistently improve quality of care. This is one of the few studies to have evaluated the effect of EHRs implementation on the quality of care in a community outpatient setting focusing on physicians in small practices who serve primarily disadvantaged patients.

— Source: Weill Cornell Medical College


Informa Healthcare to Publish Chinese Medical Record: English Edition

Informa Healthcare has announced a new partnership with the Chinese Medical Record Association (part of the Chinese Hospital Association under the authority of the Ministry of Health) for the publication of Chinese Medical Record: English Edition. Informa Healthcare aims to make high-quality content from China more easily accessible worldwide.

Starting from January, Informa Healthcare will translate selected articles into English and publish them online monthly as Chinese Medical Record: English Edition at www.informahealthcare.com. Publication of the parent journal will continue to be managed by the existing Chinese Medical Record team.

Chinese Medical Record, the official publication of the Chinese Medical Record Association, publishes peer-reviewed articles covering all areas of medical records, such as medical record management, technologies, disease and procedures classification, and clinical reports.

— Source: Informa Business Information