New deal in Nebraska: 92 state hospitals to share data with the University of Nebraska Medical Center for better services

Under a new agreement to exchange data from Nebraska’s 92 hospitals with researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, patients could receive better-tailored care, and physicians could discover which therapies work best for certain individuals.

Leaders of the Nebraska Hospital Association explained that the data is extracted from every health claim hospitals submit to insurers for payment, not from medical records, and that it will not identify patients – no names or addresses. Medicare and Medicaid are insurers.

The data contain information that could assist UNMC researchers and hospitals in enhancing health care and reducing expenses, according to Jeremy Nordquist, president of the hospital association. Included in the data are ZIP codes, diagnoses, treatments, and readmissions.

The hospital organization has been collecting these statistics for twenty years. Today, it assists administrators in determining what types of care are required and where they are required. The association will begin sharing five years of data yearly with UNMC later this year.

Using this information, a UNMC researcher, for instance, could more rapidly detect a cluster of pediatric cancer patients in southwest Nebraska. Researchers would then collaborate with residents to identify causes and preventative measures.

Dr. Jeffrey Gold, chancellor of the UNMC, remarked on Tuesday, “The value is enormous.” Having access to administrative data, as well as real-time data, enables us to track the results and distribution of health care access throughout the state of Nebraska.

Gold expressed optimism that Nebraska will have outcomes comparable to — or better than — those of other states after sharing this type of information with university medical institutes. This month, UNMC researchers are receiving training on how to locate the data they require.

Already, he added, experts are debating prospective methods for studying mammography, infectious illness rates, and cancer treatments. In the field of public health, for instance, he stated that earlier-stage data could provide “signals” that accelerate the reaction and save lives.

“The purpose of all of this is to improve access, quality, and value,” said Gold. “It is quite exciting. This is a very forward-thinking partnership, and we are quite appreciative.”

Nordquist stated that the board of the hospital association agreed to disclose the data because they believe it could assist in addressing health inequalities between rural and urban Nebraskans and between Nebraskans of color and white Nebraskans. Last year, its hospitals treated over 4.5 million patients.

“Are there distinct strategies to cure diseases that produce varying outcomes in different regions of the state?” Nordquist inquired. “We want healthier Nebraskans.”

The group already shares the information with the Department of Health and Human Services of Nebraska. According to him, neither HHS nor the association has sufficient personnel to delve more into the health care implications.

Gold explained that the relationship between UNMC and the hospital association is reciprocal. The hospitals will have specific questions regarding the required resources and facilities, and UNMC researchers will assist them in analyzing the data.

According to Nordquist, the research that could be conducted with it is virtually limitless.

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