CBI, Aetna to Collaborate on Health Care Quality Enhancements

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Harvard Medical School’s Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBI) and health care benefits heavy-hitter Aetna have announced plans to initiate a research collaborative aimed at enhancing the quality and cost of health care. Researchers participating in the endeavor will employ bioinformatics to analyze health care data in new ways.

"Major advances in research and clinical care can be made by applying new bioinformatics techniques to large, aggregated clinical databases," Isaac (Zak) Kohane, MD, a professor of pediatrics and health sciences and technology at Harvard Medical School and co-director of CBI, in a statement. Brian Kelly, MD, head of informatics and strategic alignment at Aetna, will supervise the research along with Kohane.

Researchers participating in the collaborative endeavor will evaluate the outcomes of various treatments for specific conditions based on quality and cost, as well as identify which factors predict adherence to medical and drug treatments for chronic diseases. They will also study how claims data and clinical data contained in electronic health records (EHRs) can best be applied in predicting disease and following outcomes, and how the proactive study of claims and clinical data can enhance the ability to predict adverse events.

“If our health care system is going to become a ‘learning’ health care system, we need to better use the enormous amount of information we derive from health care to develop tools to understand what is happening today,” Kohane asserted. “Major advances in research and clinical care can be made by applying new bioinformatics techniques to large, aggregated clinical databases.”