Mayo And UHG Venture Draws Big Nat’l Partners

A UnitedHealth Group and Mayo Clinic joint research initiative called Optum Labs has attracted seven new partners, including Pfizer, the Tufts Medical Center, and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Optum Labs, a health care research center founded by Minnesota public health titans Mayo Clinic and UnitedHealth Group (through its Optum Health subsidiary), has attracted seven renowned national health organizations as new partners.

Founded a little over a year ago, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based research collaborative aims to improve hospital patient care, prevent the spread of complex diseases, and fight debilitating chronic health conditions.

Joining Optum and Mayo are public health, pharmaceuticals, bioscience, and educational giants Pfizer, Inc.; the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York; Boston University School of Public Health; Lehigh Valley Health Network, a medical school and health system in Pennsylvania; Tufts Medical Center in Boston; the University of Minnesota School of Nursing; and the American Medical Group Association in Virginia, a trade association representing medical groups and health systems that provide health care services for about one in every three Americans.

Optum Labs said it has more than 20 major research initiatives currently underway at the collaborative, ranging from studies that compare the effectiveness of various medical devices, to research on how treatment patterns vary by geography, to the most effective approaches to patient engagement and treatment.

“These additional charter partners will help Optum Labs accelerate the pace of innovation, paving the way for exciting new research initiatives that can be directly translated to improvements in patient care,” Optum Labs CEO Paul Bleicher said in a statement.

According to Optum Labs, its new partners will benefit from a collaborative approach to research, proprietary analytical tools, and a vast depth of data. One of the group’s greatest tools is its access to the world’s largest and robust health care databases, which includes “de-identified” claims data on more than 150 million patients that can be linked with 30 million electronic health records.

Scientific Director of Optum Labs Nilay Shah told the Star Tribune that its database has led to unprecedented leaps in research; for example, the time it takes analysts to make a query has dropped from two to four weeks to just 40 seconds.

Late last year, Optum Labs was also joined by AARP—a nonprofit organization with a membership of more than 37 million individuals that assists people over the age of 50.