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HealthInsight Utah Participating in National Initiative to Understand How and Why Health Care Costs and Quality Vary Geographically

Salt Lake City, January 20, 2016 – HealthInsight Utah, a nonprofit, regional health improvement collaborative, is partnering with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Harvard University, the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI), and regional health improvement collaboratives in Colorado, Oregon, and Massachusetts on a five year study to understand why health care quality and cost outcomes vary – in some cases quite widely – from state to state, region to region and even within the same city. HealthInsight Utah was awarded $200,000 per year to study the geographic variation.

The study, funded by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHRQ), will tap into extensive information – insurance claims, patient-experience data and other qualitative information to identify which health care delivery systems in a state deliver high quality, affordable care.

"With our four state partners, we'll be able to dive deeply into cost and quality data to identify variations within and between geographic areas. But we will also be able to understand why these variations occur," said Dr. David Cutler, professor of applied economics at Harvard University, former senior health care advisor to President Obama and principal investigator for this ground-breaking effort. "For example, the state partners can help us understand the impact of regional payment models, delivery systems, formal or informal contracting arrangements, local and state leadership, politics, and cultural norms on high quality, affordable care. This type of insight is fundamental for fixing the health care system."

Increasingly, federal health care programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, as well as private employer health plans want cost, quality and patient experience to drive health care decisions and purchases. Data is crucial in achieving impartial evaluation of delivery systems. However, quantitative data does not provide the full explanation of variation.

HealthInsight is a trusted entity in Utah and has partnered with the Utah Department of Health Office of Health Care Statistics to access the All-Payer Claims Database covering 2.3 million Utahns. "We have invested in understanding and partnerships with the health care provider communities over many years," said Marc Bennett, president and CEO of HealthInsight. "We have a unique understanding of the various marketplaces in Utah, their histories, how they are structured, and how that in turn impacts quality and cost outcomes."

Elizabeth Mitchell, president and CEO of NRHI, a national network of 40 regional collaboratives, including the four partners in this project, said, "This project is an incredibly important opportunity to showcase the unique capabilities of regional collaboratives and their ability to explain their markets quantitatively and qualitatively. Perhaps the most exciting aspect is how those regional entities can inform the national research agenda."

The results of the study and future research in the same field will help health care consumers in Utah and across the country make more informed decisions about their health and the care they receive.

About HealthInsight
HealthInsight is a recognized leader in convening and partnering with communities to improve health and health care by advancing quality, efficiency and value for patients and providers. We are leading experts in quality improvement; transparency and public reporting; use of health information technology; engaging patients to improve their health; and redesigning how care is paid for and delivered. Learn more at healthinsight.org and follow us on Twitter @HealthInsight_.