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viable synergy joins health data consortium to harness, unleash massive healthcare data

Cincinnati-based startup ViableSynergy, a health IT commercialization firm, recently joined a new federal initiative aimed at liberating massive amounts of government-stored healthcare data to create new products and services designed to improve healthcare delivery.

The newly-formed Health Data Consortium, spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is an effort to get data housed in various government programs like Medicaid or the Department of Veteran's Affairs into the hands of health innovators. The data, scrubbed of personally identifying information, could be used to create more effective healthcare services and help providers make better care decisions.

"In Medicaid services, you can look at claims data like the distribution of race and the types of claims," explains Sunnie Southern, founder and CEO of ViableSynergy. "You could look at that information across a map and visualize it.

"You could see if more African-Americans have heart attacks in a certain area, or more Caucasians have back surgeries, and make a decision based on that. If there is a high concentration of Asians who have heart attacks in an area, maybe you could put a clinic in that place. You could help reduce health disparities."

As an affiliate of the Health Data Consortium, ViableSynergy will work to communicate the needs of the region to the consortium.

"What does the community need, in the broad sense? What tools and resources do we in the real-world need -- NKU, business incubators or UC -- to liberate these massive data sets that are released? We'll be working as a conduit to answer those questions," Southern says.

Other members of the Consortium include California Health Care Foundation, Consumer Reports, Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Gallup/Healthways.

"(Health and Human Service CTO) Todd Parks, whose brainchild was the open government initiative, really wants to use health data to spur innovation and entrepreneurship," Southern says.

By Feoshia Henderson
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