Change Healthcare teams up with AWS to offer data analytics service with focus on social determinants of health

Technology company Change Healthcare has teamed up with Amazon's cloud division to offer a new service to help scale up data analytics using social determinants of health data.

The data science as a service solution can help health systems and life sciences organizations improve the effectiveness of interventions and therapies, particularly for underserved and vulnerable populations, the company said.

The cloud service provides de-identified claims data integrated with social determinants of health for more robust data analytics and research on vulnerable patient populations.

Historically, the process of using regulated health data with social determinants is manual, slow, and fraught with compliance challenges, according to Change Healthcare.

Leveraging the agility, scale, and security of Amazon Web Services (AWS), the service will address those problems by pre-integrating data and deploying automated software that consistently monitors adherence to privacy/ and compliance obligations to make patient-level integration of de-identified claims, SDOH, behavioral health, and other novel data practical and timely, the company said.

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“As much as 80% of our health and well-being is affected by social determinants, such as whether someone can access or afford medical care, their level of healthcare literacy, their access to transportation, and their food and housing vulnerabilities,” said Tim Suther, senior vice president of data solutions at Change Healthcare in a statement.

“Traditional comparative research fails to effectively account for these inequities. By integrating data beyond the clinical setting—in a way that supports privacy—we can understand how diverse life circumstances affect treatment efficacy. That understanding is key in improving outcomes and healthcare economics," he said.

AWS is competing with Microsoft and Google to push deeper into healthcare in a battle to provide cloud computing and data storage technology to hospitals and life sciences companies.

Several high-profile organizations are using Change Healthcare's data science as a service offering in partnership with AWS.

The Duke University School of Medicine uses the service to explore differences in COVID-19 disease progression as a function of pre-existing conditions and various interventions for different ethnic and socioeconomic subgroups.

“Our work on COVID-19 highlights how comparative effectiveness research needs to better incorporate ethnicity and social determinants of health to truly assess the real impact of therapies and interventions,” said Michael Pencina, vice dean for Data Science and Information Technology at Duke University School of Medicine.

Carnegie Mellon University's Delphi Research Group has been using the dataset, combined with data from other sources, to create an interactive COVID-19 map that tracks behaviors, treatments and diagnoses. 

RELATED: UnitedHealth Group's Optum to buy Change Healthcare for $13B

The cloud service can enable health systems and life science organizations to develop unique insights into therapeutic effectiveness while avoiding inequities due to social determinants. Change Healthcare’s de-identified patient-level dataset spans diagnoses, care prescriptions, and social determinants across the U.S. healthcare system. 

“Providing secure access to comprehensive, linked healthcare datasets will enable life sciences organizations to personalize the patient experiences, support, and enable powerful population-level comparative research to improve precision medicine and personalized care, such as medication adherence, around the world,” said Wilson To, head of Worldwide Healthcare Business Development at AWS in a statement.

“DSaaS expands the long-standing collaboration between Change Healthcare and AWS, and provides life sciences organizations innovative tools to accelerate research and improve commercial operations.”

In November, Change Healthcare launched social determinants of health analytics, a national data resource that will enable health systems, insurers and life sciences organizations explore how geodemographic factors impact patient outcomes.

In early January, UnitedHealth Group's Optum unit announced plans to buy Change Healthcare for $13 billion, or $7.84 billion in cash plus about $5 billion in debt. That transaction will be completed in the second half of 2021.