News Column

Mayo Clinic, UnitedHealth Form Research Lab in Massachusetts

Jan. 15, 2013

Christopher Snowbeck, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.


Two of the biggest names in Minnesota health care announced plans Tuesday, Jan. 15, to jointly operate a new research lab in Massachusetts.

Called Optum Labs, the venture brings together Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group and Mayo Clinic, based in Rochester, Minn.

The new lab will draw on UnitedHealth Group's claims data to better understand what drives high-value care, organizers say.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The venture initially will employ 50 to 60 people in Cambridge, Mass.; it already has opened for business.

"Our strategic alliance ... will leverage what we believe to be the largest combined source of clinical and claims information, providing a more comprehensive picture of patients' diagnoses, progression of diseases, comparative treatments and outcomes," said Dr. John Noseworthy, president and chief executive officer of Mayo Clinic, in a statement.

Other partners could join the research collaborative, officials said. The research effort has goals of finding optimal treatments for various conditions and explaining why patients don't all have the same access to those treatments.

Researchers expect to measure the best treatments for a serious blood cancer called chronic myelogenous leukemia, as well as the relative cost-effectiveness of medical device treatments. They also hope to analyze better ways to diagnose hepatitis C.

In a statement, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton predicted the "collaboration will lead to better and more

cost-effective medical decisions, benefitting both patients and payers."

UnitedHealth Group is one of the country's largest health insurers with $5.1 billion in net earnings during 2011 on $101.9 billion in revenue. The new lab is operating out of the company's Optum unit, which is based in Eden Prairie and sells technology-based services to doctors, hospitals and health insurers.

Mayo Clinic operates hospitals and clinics in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In 2011, the clinic posted operating income of $610 million on $8.48 billion in revenue.

Source: (c)2013 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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