U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Joins OptumLabs

November 18, 2015
  • Federal agency will use health data to create additional value for the nation’s health system and drive improvements in patient care
  • Health care research and innovation collaborative co-founded by Optum and Mayo Clinic

OptumLabs, the collaborative health care research and innovation center co-founded by Optum and Mayo Clinic, announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has joined the collaborative as a research partner.

Agencies under HHS’s purview will now have the opportunity to develop and lead innovative health care research using OptumLabs’ big data resources, which link de-identified medical claims and clinical data to provide holistic views of populations and patient care.

“As HHS and its affiliates seek opportunities to improve the health, safety and well-being of all Americans, we believe that partnering with private-sector organizations such as OptumLabs will help accelerate the discovery of new health care models and practices,” said Susannah Fox, chief technology officer of HHS. “We are eager to collaborate with OptumLabs and its partners on a variety of initiatives that harness the power of health data to improve patient care and outcomes.”

The first research project to be conducted through this arrangement is with senior scientists at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the lead federal agency charged with improving the safety and quality of America’s health care system. The agency will compare and contrast health care trends identified in its Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) with those identified in real-world administrative health care claims records for the commercially insured population in OptumLabs’ databases, with the goal of increasing the value of MEPS to researchers exploring health care costs. MEPS collects data on the health services that Americans use, the cost of these services and how they are paid for.

HHS and its agencies also will work with OptumLabs on other projects, including research related to population health and the economics of health care – such as identifying whether disparities exist and can be measured in health care delivery at the national and local levels. All research is performed using de-identified outcomes-based data that can help answer questions about improvements in health care quality and delivery.

“Government is a key stakeholder in health care, and through this partnership now has a seat at the table of our collaborative community at OptumLabs,” said Paul Bleicher, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of OptumLabs. “We are grateful to have HHS as a new partner and welcome its active engagement as we focus on new initiatives that can directly translate to improvements in patient care.”

OptumLabs, with one of the largest de-identified patient databases in health care, is the first open, collaborative research and innovation center designed to accelerate health care innovation, leading to improved patient care and patient value. More than 100 research projects are currently underway or in development, and members of OptumLabs and its partner organizations have published more than 20 articles in leading health research journals.

About OptumLabs
OptumLabs was established in 2013 through a partnership between Optum, a leading information and technology-enabled health services business, and Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research, and education, as an open center for research and innovation. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership of more than 37 million individuals, is its Founding Consumer Advocate Organization. Today, OptumLabs has more than 20 collaborating organizations, representing participants from across the health care system. For more information, visit, or follow OptumLabs on Twitter, @OptumLabs.