Lehigh Valley Health Network of Allentown has joined Optum Labs, a collaborative research and innovation center in Cambridge, Mass.
LVHN and six other organizations were announced Thursday as new partners: the American Medical Group Association, Alexandria, Va.; Boston University School of Public Health, Boston; Pfizer Inc., New York City; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y.; Tufts Medical Center, Boston; and University of Minnesota School of Nursing, Minneapolis, Minn.
Dr. Ronald Swinfard, M.D., CEO of the health network said LVHN has been working toward becoming a full partner in the effort for the past year.
He described the work of Optum Labs as using "big data" to improve the quality and value of care of the population.
Optum Labs was founded in January 2013 by Optum, an information and technology-enabled health services business, and the Mayo Clinic.
"This is really cutting edge," Swinfard said. "We use data to predict those in a population group who are going to develop chronic disease in the next couple of years and begin to manage them … show them how to prevent diabetes."
The partners in Optum Labs will share data, technology and knowledge to help improve the health of patients in at-risk groups.
"This way we can care for patients in a more sophisticated and predictive way," Swinfard said.
He noted that the group is enthusiastic about LVHN's participation in the effort.
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.
"We are pretty much a pure care provider," Swinfard said. "The data that is translated can be used to treat our patients directly."
More than 20 major research initiatives are 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.
Results from Optum Labs research will be shared through publications in scientific journals and presentations at professional meetings. Several projects are slated for publication in mid-2014.
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