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Scaling the Mountain of Data

UnitedHealth Group and the Mayo Clinic are teaming up to study data included in patient medical records, reports The Wall Street Journal. UnitedHealth will be contributing claims records from 109 million people over the course of nearly two decades, and the Mayo Clinic will provide 5 million clinical records to the research effort. UnitedHealth tells the Journal that it envisions the effort, called Optum Labs, as a "dedicated research unit … not a profit-driven undertaking." Projects at the lab will focus on cost-effectiveness research and improving diagnoses, the Journal adds.

"It's a sign of the times," David Brailer, from the private-equity firm Health Evolution Partners and the health information czar during the George W. Bush administration, tells the Journal. "Data has moved center stage, and now it's time for it to show what it can do."