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Camden Coalition to study ACA's impact with data analytics


By Joseph Conn
Posted: January 22, 2014 - 2:00 pm ET
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A not-for-profit organization in New Jersey will wield data analytics in an attempt to quantify whether Obamacare delivers health outcomes that are worth the cost of expanding health insurance coverage.

The Camden (N.J.) Coalition of Healthcare Providers is undertaking the research project with a $450,000 grant from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The organization, founded by a group of physicians in 2002, has achieved recognition for its work using data to find and improve care for high-cost patients. Its founder, Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, recently won a MacArthur fellowship, popularly known as the “genius grant.”

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The researchers now intend to study the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by identifying newly insured individuals and developing a tool to analyze how those patients utilize hospital-based care as they gain coverage. “It's going to be challenging to figure out the right processes, but our data set could be one of the first publicly available windows into how the system responds to expanded coverage,” said Aaron Truchil, associate director of data, research and evaluation for the group.

“We're still working out many of the details for the project, but the basic premise will be to combine hospital claims and EMR data to provide a weather map for population health at the city-level,” Truchil said. “We're imagining an interactive dashboard that shows relevant metrics that can be manipulated by geography, demography and temporally. So many interesting data points are sitting in the data that we're sure many interesting insights will be able to be drawn” from them, he said.

The grant for the project was one of seven totaling $2.2 million announced by the Knight Foundation last week at the Clinton Health Matters conference in La Quinta, Calif.

Other health information technology projects receiving grants included a text-message-based crisis counseling and referral service for young people run by the not-for-profit DoSomething.org ($350,000), and the Open Humans Network, an online system where patients may voluntarily offer their data for medical research ($500,000). The latter is operated by PersonalGenomes.org, a not-for-profit organization run by leaders of the Harvard Genome Project at Harvard Medical School.

Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn


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