BCBSA Launches Alliance for Health Research

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) has announced a partnership with a group of the nation’s leading health care academics that will allow university researchers access to the largest source of commercial insurance claims data.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Alliance for Health Research was established to engage leading U.S. health care researchers in collaborative efforts to use Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies’ de-identified data to explore critical health care issues in order to improve the health of Americans. The alliance provides researchers with use of a secure data portal that comprises the largest collection of de-identified commercial insurance claims, medical professional and cost of care information.

“The purpose of the alliance is to leverage the breadth of BCBS data to enable richer analytics, sharper insights and smarter solutions for improving health care quality and affordability,” said Maureen Sullivan, chief strategy and innovation officer for BCBSA. “We look forward to working with the nation’s top researchers to make health care work better for everyone.”

Researchers who join the alliance will come together periodically to share insights, discuss issues and create synergies across their areas of focus to help advance improvements in U.S. health care.

Three initial alliance studies that are planned include: 

  • Harvard Medical School’s Michael Chernew, Ph.D., will explore the variation across providers in use of opioids and related consequences; patterns of pain management and choice of opioids versus alternative therapies; and assess the impact of policies and programs on opioid use. Chernew’s colleague Nicole Maestas, Ph.D., is researching the use of opioid treatment for pain and its effect on health and functional outcomes such as disability and employment among middle-aged and older Americans
  • Yale University’s Dr. Cary Gross is studying how options for cancer screenings have evolved during the past decade and the economic and clinical implications of these changes. The study will examine associated costs, geographic and demographic variation in use, and impact on cancer diagnosis, treatment and survival.
  • Scripps Translational Science Institute’s Dr. Nathan Wineinger, Ph.D. and Dr. Steven Steinhubl will research the variation in biologic use, including across geographies and over time, as well as how the prescribing biologics influences health outcomes and whether there are trends among classes of biologics
“BCBSA’s decision to allow independent access to their data demonstrates a commitment to supporting evidence based transformation of the health care system,” said Chernew, an alliance partner and the Leonard D. Schaeffer Professor of Health Care Policy. “We are honored to work with BCBSA, BCBS companies and other alliance members to support this effort.”

“BCBS claims data gives us access to detailed and wide-ranging information on how health care providers are delivering care to patients,” said Dr. Vivian Ho, Ph.D., an alliance partner and the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics at Rice University's Baker Institute. “Comparing health care strategies across these providers will allow us to identify the best methods for improving the lives of chronically ill patients, preventing the onset of serious illness and controlling rising health care costs.”


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