On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Two Minn. health giants announce collaboration

Share story

Mayo construction
Mayo Clinic is Minnesota's largest private employer. The partnership between Mayo Clinic and UnitedHealth Group's Optum division is the largest health data-sharing effort of its kind in the country.
Alex Kolyer for MPR

A new collaborative research initiative between two Minnesota health giants will work to improve patient care and lower costs.

Announced Tuesday morning, the partnership between Mayo Clinic and UnitedHealth Group's Optum division is the largest health data-sharing effort of its kind in the country. The new alliance is called Optum Labs. Think of it as a massive database that combines Optum's claim records from more than 100 million patients over the last 20 years, with five-million of Mayo's clinical records from the last 15 years.

Together, these records will help health care providers better understand health care delivery to create more efficient approaches to care, said Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy. He said this is particularly important for illnesses that require long-term care, like heart disease.

"By combining Mayo's robust clinical information with Optum's extensive claims information into the Optum Labs in a strategic alliance, we'll be able to better understand health-care delivery over time, compare the effectiveness of care, and analyze the total cost of care for specific procedures or diseases," Noseworthy said.

Dr. John Noseworthy
Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy, said the Optum Labs partnership will help health care providers better understand health care delivery to create more efficient approaches to care.
MPR Photo/Alex Kolyer

By the end of the year, Optum officials expect nearly 60 researchers will mine this data at a new Optum Labs facility in Cambridge, Mass.

Optum Group Executive Vice President Andy Slavitt said combining clinical and claims data will give health care providers a broad-spectrum view of the most efficient approaches to care.

Slavitt says identifying information will be stripped from all data of before use by Optum Lab researchers. Researchers are interested in what's known as "big-data" to identify patterns over time, he said.

"The data is 'de-identified' prior to even arriving at Optum Labs so that the scientists are doing the level of research in that large data sphere. Not in looking at individual patients," Slavitt said.

He said the collaboration is part of a larger effort to link claims and clinical data for research purposes. Over time, Optum Labs will include other participants, like academic institutions, life science companies, commercial and government payers and other care providers.