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An Inflection Point for HCCI: Upcoming Releases, New COVID-19 Projects & Expanded Dataset

It's been a while since my last broad-based update on HCCI's work. With so much going on in the world, I want to bring you up to speed on the many activities underway at HCCI, including our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and our transition to a new dataset that will incorporate claims from Aetna, Humana and Blue Health Intelligence.

Everyone's attention is rightfully focused on COVID-19 right now - and so is HCCI's. While we are proud to maintain one of the largest and most highly-curated commercial claims datasets we recognize that the wide scope of our data comes with many benefits, as well as some inherent limitations. Aggregating, de-identifying, and categorizing data takes time. That means our analyses generally face an 18-24 month lag, and therefore our core dataset is not well-equipped to provide timely insights about the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, we are happy to announce our involvement in two exciting new open-access projects that can offer more timely insights into the pandemic's impact and spread.

With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we recently launched a project that will partner with more than 100 hospitals and clinics representing eight health care systems. These health systems have agreed to create COVID-19 patient data registries using a standard set of definitions and data elements. In this way, HCCI can remotely query the data and combine aggregated results across the different hospital systems to begin to create a better understanding of COVID-19.

In collaboration with Datavant and a host of other partners, we also launched the COVID-19 Research Database. This collection of de-identified data from multiple sources represents one of the largest public-private repositories of real-world evidence ever assembled, and is now available at no cost to researchers who commit to analyze the data for non-commercial COVID-19 related projects. The project's data partners collectively have medical and Rx claims data on over 300 million unique patients, and EMR data on over 40 million unique patients. There is also mortality data representing over 80% of U.S. deaths, updated weekly. Current data partners include Office Ally, Symphony, Healthjump, Star Schema, and Mortality Data, with more to come.

While HCCI is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to the current crisis, we believe it's equally important to maintain focus on our core mission of better understanding US health care utilization and spending trends. At a time when the U.S. health care system is under unprecedented stress, it's more important than ever to ask and answer macro-level questions that can drive improvements in quality and value. We've always said that HCCI data is a critical national resource, and as we face a national and global health crisis, it's never been clearer that this work serves the public interest.

The need for comprehensive, navigable health data has rarely felt more acute. In that spirit, I'm excited to preview some of the important work that HCCI will be releasing over the coming weeks.

These include:

  • An update of our award-winning Healthy Marketplace Index, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will shed light on health care spending in 124 U.S. cities through the end of 2017;
  • An innovative public-private data partnership in North Carolina, funded by the Commonwealth Fund and Arnold Ventures that will not only yield deep insights about health care in that state, but also provide a template for quickly and inexpensively approximating the benefits of an all-payer claims database.
  • A new look at maternal health, including the cost of childbirth in the US and how it varies, utilization of prenatal services, and spending in the year after delivery; and
  • An addition to our ongoing analysis of out-of-network billing that assesses how widespread that practice is and whether it is more common among certain specialties.

These work products will also mark the end of an era. They will be the last research conducted by HCCI using the combined UnitedHealth Group, Aetna and Humana data, covering more than 40 million Americans with employer-sponsored coverage. Moving forward, our work, and that of external academic researchers, will leverage the expanded dataset our team has affectionately dubbed 'HCCI 2.0.,' covering more than 60 million Americans with employer-sponsored coverage using combined data from Aetna, Blue Health Intelligence, and Humana. While circumstances and datasets may change, our mission at HCCI remains the same: using the best data to get the best answers about U.S. health care. Continuing this mission is how we will keep serving the public interest and informing those of you working each day to build a better health care system and a healthier country.

Finally, as always I want to thank the incredible team at HCCI, who have seamlessly transitioned to a 100% virtual working environment without missing a beat, while maintaining their productivity on existing projects and taking on new responsibilities related to our efforts around COVID-19.

Best regards,

Niall Brennan

President & CEO

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