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Dedicated analytics research centers popping up all over healthcare

Analytics research investment continues in this uncertain economy as providers and gov't agencies open new centers for dedicated discovery.
By admin
Nov 24, 2023, 8:01 AM

Data-driven care is becoming ever more ingrained in healthcare as provider organizations and their partners continue to invest resources in dedicated analytics research centers to advance knowledge and share best practices with industry peers. 

From oncology to health equity, these labs and innovation centers bring together experts in specific fields to explore how analytics strategies, including artificial intelligence, can improve the ability to predict disease progression and treat individuals with complex needs.  

Here are just a few of the recently announced projects from the second half of 2023. 

Yale School of Medicine forms the Stephen and Denise Adams Center for Parkinson’s Disease Research  

 The new center for Parkinson’s research aims to shift treatment for the degenerative neurological disease from reactive to proactive, says new director Clemens Scherzer, MD.   

 “Instead of waiting for the disease to progress and cause debilitating symptoms, a major focus of the center will be to develop predictive analytics to use genetics and data to predict what the future holds for a specific patient and to identify therapeutic targets and drugs to intervene ahead of time to prevent debilitating complications from ever arising,” he said in an announcement.   

 Scherzer will be taking the reins of the new center at the beginning of 2024 after leaving Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  After developing a biobank of data from more than 3000 patients in Boston, Scherzer will continue his work by launching a similar project at Yale.  

 “As we redefine neurology based on genetics, we can develop drugs that precisely target disease drivers shared by different brain diseases,” he said. 

 UPenn’s Wharton to create new healthcare analytics lab 

 Fellow Ivy League member UPenn is also amping up its healthcare research work by launching the Wharton Healthcare Analytics Lab (WHAL) to “transform healthcare through a data-driven, analytical approach,” according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.    

 “Right now is a critical moment in healthcare: we’ve seen a growing availability of data, as well as transformative opportunities with respect to the development of algorithmic tools.  By carrying these together, we think that we can begin to tackle many of healthcare’s growing challenges,” said Marrisa King, the Alice Y. Hung President’s Distinguished Professor of Health Care, who will co-lead the lab with Laura Zarrow, Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives and Innovation with Analytics at Wharton and Hamsa Bastani, Associate Professor of Operations, Information, and Decisions. 

 WHAL will focus on leveraging AI and other analytics methods to solve pression problems in resource allocation, workforce wellbeing, innovative trials, treatment and care, and health equity.  The lab will collaborate with other Penn centers and will offer classes for undergrads and MBA students in healthcare analytics. 

 “Our goal is to become a centralized place for anyone who’s interested in healthcare analytics to come together,” King said. 

 MD Anderson Cancer Center launches Institute for Data Science in Oncology 

 MD Anderson is looking for creative ways to merge the talents of medicine, science, academia, and industry into a new strategy for generating and leveraging health data to improve cancer care.  With the new Institute for Data Science in Oncology (IDSO), the leading cancer center is planning to explore innovative approaches for accelerating drug discovery, develop improved standards of care, and enhance patient experiences. 

 “At MD Anderson, we are intimately familiar with the urgent needs and challenges facing our patients, and we will find the best solutions possible by unlocking the full power of the growing and increasingly complex data,” said Caroline Chung, MD, Director of Data Science Development and Implementation for IDSO and Chief Data Officer at MD Anderson. “The institutional commitment to this effort enables us to build an unmatched oncology data ecosystem that fuels effective collaborations across MD Anderson and around the world.”  

 IDSO will initially focus on using AI and machine learning to improve interpretation of medical imaging, enhance understanding of cancer biology, optimize precision medicine treatments, achieve greater health equity, and deliver safer, more patient-centered experiences. 

 New York City opens Center for Population Health Data Science   

 The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced the launch of its new population health analytics center in October with the goal of creating stronger links between healthcare, social services, and public health. 

 “The Center initiative aims to develop consistency, compatibility, and interoperability so that myriad types of data, whether from routine clinical care to public health surveillance activities to community programs, can be shared, matched, and used to advance citywide population health goals and to combat the central challenge of declining and inequitable life expectancy in New York City,” the announcement says. 

Specifically, the Center will help to build the City’s capabilities with data visualizations, forecasting and modeling, data aggregation, governance, and interoperability.  Leaders will also work to leverage artificial intelligence to support the city’s newly unveiled AI strategy 

 The Center will be directed by Mamta Parakh, DOHMH’s inaugural Chief Population Health and Data Officer, while Gretchen Van Wye will serve as the Deputy Director of the Center and as the agency’s Chief Epidemiologist. 

Hartford HealthCare’s Center for Equity aims to reduce socioeconomic inequities   

 Connecticut’s Hartford HealthCare (HHC) recently created a new Center for Equity with the goal of addressing socioeconomic barriers that lead to inequitable outcomes for certain populations.   

 “Inclusion is about everyone being able to contribute – everyone has a voice,” said Elisabeth E.N. Michel, HHC’s manager for equity transformation. “Opportunity means patients are able to get the best care when they need it and colleagues can grow to achieve their full potential. Inequities are avoidable and unjust. There is something we can do. Start somewhere.” 

 In addition to tackling challenges of equity in maternal health, the center will focus on improving the collection of data around the social determinants of health to improve providers’ abilities to address these issues during the care process.  Oftentimes, this data is missing from the clinical record or is poorly standardized and not granular enough, making it difficult for clinicians to take meaningful actions. 

 The new center will be involved in bringing the national “We Ask Because We Care” initiative to HHC to jumpstart conversations with patients and improve data collection at scale. 

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