(Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau, Barcelona. Photo credit: Jaume Meneses.)
The Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) has announced that Aetna, Humana and United Healthcare would assist in the development of a web portal to provide free public access to their considerable aggregated health claims data repository. The data has been de-identified to comply with HIPAA and other applicable laws governing health care privacy.
HCCI seeks to better understand what drives health care costs and spending in order to make the health system more transparent and sustainable. In pursuit of these goals, the non-profit research institute has, for the past several years, made this data repository available to researchers who study health care costs. The new website, expected to go live in early 2015, will be available to three additional tiers of users – the general public, insured members, and large employers.
The public-facing tier will provide unprecedented access to the data. Unlike similar tools available today, the portal will require no registration or sign-in and will provide granular information on a variety of healthcare costs, in what HCCI characterizes as a transparent and consumer-friendly manner. One of the most important anticipated benefits to public consumers will be the ability to make price comparisons for various treatment options. Insured members will register and have password-protected access to additional information geared toward their individualized needs. Large employers will be provided with secure, customized information that will integrate into their corporate healthcare initiatives.
“We’re accustomed to big data!”
HCCI’s system is managed by Optum, a United Healthcare subsidiary. It holds the data of more than 50 million individuals, which is one of the largest repositories of such information in history. With over nine billion claim lines, representing multiple billing items for medical services (from doctor’s visits, to surgical procedures, to each drug administered), David Newman, HCCI’s Executive Director says, “We’re accustomed to big data!” For analysis, HCCI currently uses Microsoft SQL, SAS and Stata for various stages of its software. The firm envisions a second host for some other data contributors.