THE GEOGRAPHY OF DISEASE
There are plenty of doctors, but no white coats, in the Cambridge, Mass. offices of Optumlabs™.
With a focus on science and discovery, the research and innovation collaborative examines data, not patients. Optum® partners across the entire health system in helping solve health care’s biggest challenges. Its goal is to help employers, insurance companies, providers, life science organizations, governments and others understand health FDUH LQ DOO LWV FRPSOH[LW\ DQG ÀQG ZD\V WR LPSURYH FDUH and reduce the costs. The Optum™ Communityhealth dataset tracks close to 100 different health metrics in more than 300 communities QDWLRQZLGH HQDEOLQJ UHVHDUFKHUV WR TXLFNO\ YLVXDOL]H DQG understand key differences and similarities across markets. 7KH SURSULHWDU\ GDWDVHW SURYLGHV UHVHDUFKHUV ZLWK LQIRUPDWLRQ IURP PRUH WKDQ PLOOLRQ SDWLHQWV³ZLWK DOO WKH GDWD anonymized to ensure patient privacy. ,W RIIHUV FRPSDULVRQV RI KHDOWK ZHOO EHLQJ VRFLDO IDFWRUV DQG KHDOWKFDUH V\VWHP TXDOLW\ LQ FRPPXQLWLHV DFURVV WKH 8 6 8VLQJ WKLV GDWD HPSOR\ HUV FDQ LQYHVWLJDWH ZKLFK interventions can improve care for their employees, and ZKHUH WKHLU LPSOHPHQWDWLRQ ZLOO KDYH WKH JUHDWHVW LPSDFW Some of the regional variations are easy to understand. The KLJKHU SUHYDOHQFH RI K\SHUWHQVLRQ LQ WKH 6RXWK FRLQFLGHV ZLWK the higher incidence of a variety of other serious conditions there, including diabetes and high cholesterol, according to Optumlabs CEO, Dr. Paul Bleicher, M.D., PH.D. The high incidence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the Ohio River Valley, particularly in West Virginia and .HQWXFN\ FRUUHODWHV ZLWK FRPPXQLWLHV WKDW UHSRUW VRPH RI the highest levels of smoking per capita. Another example: There are more reported cases of depression per capita in the Rocky Mountain states than in other regions. That may be because a higher percentage of Rocky Mountain residents are depressed—but it may also be because they are “more likely to go to the doctor, or more likely to tell the doctor about their symptoms, or the doctor may be more likely to diagnose depression than do doctors in other regions,” says Bleicher. Sometimes even a dataset as sophisticated as the one at 2SWXP/DEV LV LQVXIÀFLHQW WR SURYLGH LQVLJKWV RQ VRPH ÀQGLQJV For instance, none of the almost 100 factors tracked FRUUHODWHV FORVHO\ ZLWK WKH KLJK LQFLGHQFH RI ORZHU EDFN SDLQ in the Great Plains states. In all the regions, by appreciating “the measures of FRPPXQLW\ EHKDYLRU WKDW DUH FRUUHODWHG ZLWK³DQG LQ VRPH FDVHV DUH NQRZQ WR EH UHVSRQVLEOH IRU ³ WKHVH GLVHDVHV and conditions,” employers can fund preventive health FDUH PHDVXUHV DQG LQWHUYHQWLRQV LQ D ZD\ WKDW ZLOO GHOLYHU maximum value to them and their employees, Bleicher says.
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