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12:00 AM
 | 
Mar 16, 2015
 |  BioCentury  |  Tools & Techniques

Harnessing data for AD

How CEOi, Optum Labs plan to use big data to help move needle in AD

A new initiative from the Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer's Disease and Optum Labs aims to harness big data sets and analysis tools to better identify patients at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. The partners expect AD stakeholders will use the data and tools to tailor patient care and save the healthcare system money.

A not-for-profit industry coalition focused on AD research, the Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer's Disease (CEOi) is leading the Big Data Research Initiative to Fight Alzheimer's Disease, which was launched last month to provide resources to enable industry, academia and government agencies to use big data to develop a better understanding of who will develop AD, and when; how quickly a person's AD will progress; and how best to deliver care.

"You can see a wide variety of potentially quite interesting things happening to people on the path to Alzheimer's and people not on the path to Alzheimer's" by looking through claims data, electronic health records and consumer data, said George Vradenburg, founder and chairman of not-for-profit advocacy group USAgainstAlzheimer's. Vradenburg and USAgainstAlzheimer's convened CEOi.

CEOi's effort is the latest big data initiative looking to tackle AD. The latest results from another initiative, NIH's Accelerating Medicine Partnership for Alzheimer's Disease (AMP-AD), were made available on March 4 (see "Amassing AD Data," page 12).

Providing power

It was Optum Labs' volume of data combined with its analysis tools to sort and analyze those data that attracted CEOi, according to Vradenburg.

The Mayo Clinic and the Optum IT healthcare services business of UnitedHealth Group Inc. launched Optum Labs in 2013 to evaluate data from insurance claims and clinical records. Optum Labs has a database of 161 million records of claims data going back 20 years. Through UnitedHealth's 2013 acquisition of healthcare analytics company Humedica Inc., Optum Labs also has electronic health record (EHR) data covering 50 million lives over three to seven years. All of the data are de-identified.

Optum Labs CEO Paul Bleicher said the unit has about the same amount of data on consumers as it has for EHRs. He declined to comment on where the consumer data come from, but said it "really gives you more of a picture of the person and of the aspects of their lives that can be usefully applied to predictive models."

For instance, he said factoring in data on a person's living environment, such as whether that individual lives...

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