VCU, University of California San Diego collaborate on population health initiative

Virginia Commonwealth University is embarking on an initiative to test how big data can help improve population health on the other side of the U.S.

The Richmond, Virginia-based school is partnering with data scientists at the University of California San Diego's Qualcomm Institute to support Live Well San Diego, a population wellness program through San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency, according to an announcement. Funding for the project is being provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

As healthcare industry accelerates its transition from a fee-for-service model to a value-based one, population health initiatives will loom larger than ever throughout 2015, according to a report by Health Management Academy and Huron Healthcare.

Researchers working on the project will use existing data from health information exchanges and electronic medical records to prioritize issues that include air quality, noise and climate.

"Other industries are putting advanced analytics to work, and we're excited to show how public health can do the same," Steven Woolf, M.D., the project's principal investigator and director of the VCU Center on Society and Health, said in the announcement.

Nick Macchione, director of the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, hopes the project will "provide a roadmap for other regions across the country to create a culture of health."

National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo has previously touted the importance of using data for population health.

"It's also an important time for us to recognize that really improving the quality of care, and seeing that we're able to spend our dollars more wisely in that care system, requires us to really roll up data into big data," she said in March.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement