Mayo Clinic, Mercy's new collaboration will mine years of deidentified patient data for clinical insights

Two major health systems have penned a 10-year collaboration to join and analyze mountains of patient data for insights that could improve care quality and save lives.

Mayo Clinic and Mercy will be aggregating more than a decade of each organization’s de-identified electronic health records on a secure cloud-based data network, the organizations said in a Tuesday morning announcement.

Although initially too unstructured for data analysis, the organizations say recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning will allow their teams to review the large data set for patterns among the cases, their treatments and outcomes.

“This gives physicians, providers and operational leaders critical information that can ensure patients receive the right treatment at the right time based on millions of previous patient outcomes, while simultaneously improving operational efficiencies and lowering costs,” John Mohart, M.D., president of Mercy Communities, said in the announcement. “We believe bringing technology and data science to the bedside can provide better patient care, shorter hospital stays and overall better health for people everywhere.”

The health systems said the makeup of their distributed network will allow their teams to work with a larger pool of data without needing to pull or trade those data between the organizations. Rather, each will retain full control over the information they’re bringing to the table.

That body of longitudinal patient outcomes will, however, allow the systems to develop and validate algorithms that can be used alongside providers to determine the most effective approaches to treatment and prevention, the organizations said.

“This unique collaboration will eliminate the barriers to innovation in health care by bringing together data and human expertise through a new way of working together,” John Halamka, M.D., president of Mayo Clinic Platform, said in the announcement. “Our union has the potential to transform medicine worldwide."

The systems say they’re each bringing unique strengths to the collaboration.

Mayo Clinic, for instance, has experience treating highly complex patients and has recently made “extensive” investments in data science platforms. Mercy, which spans more than 40 acute care managed and specialty hospitals and other locations, comes to the table with de-identified records on more than 500 million patient encounters.

Further, broadening the net of patient populations across each organization’s unique geography and demographics will strengthen the future algorithms’ accuracy, reduce model bias and yield a more diverse set of treatment recommendations, the systems said.

“With Mayo and Mercy combining efforts, we can speed prediction and diagnosis, and provide better patient care, experience and outcomes, while ultimately saving more lives,” Steve Mackin, president and CEO of Mercy, said in the announcement. “We also hope to innovate together in other patient-focused areas, including precision medicine, transplant care, complex cancer, cardiovascular, neuroscience and much more."

The mindset driving Mayo and Mercy’s big data collaboration falls in line with that of Truveta, the clinical data analysis startup launched in February 2021 by major health system names like Tenet Health, Providence and CommonSpirit Health.

As of its November launch and an accompanying $200 million funding round, the Seattle-based data startup is targeting clinical and drug development insights with the backing of 20 health systems and Microsoft.