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Aetna, Harvard Medical to Partner on Bioinformatics Research

Supercomputer (kosheahan/Flickr)The insurance company Aetna Inc. in Hartford, Connecticut and Harvard Medical School in Boston have agreed to find new ways to analyze health care data to further clinical research and improve the quality and affordability of health care. The research will be conducted by the Center for Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School and Aetna clinicians and informatics specialists.

Bioinformatics is the application of computer science and information technology to the field of biology and medicine. The research will be supervised by Isaac (Zak) Kohane, professor of pediatrics and co-director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics, and Brian Kelly, Aetna’s head of informatics.

The research agenda is expected to include:

  • Evaluating outcomes of various treatments for specific conditions based on quality and cost
  • Determining factors that predict adherence to medical and drug treatments for chronic diseases
  • Studying the ways claims data and clinical data in electronic health records can best be used to predict disease and follow outcomes
  • Improving the ability to predict adverse events through the proactive study of claims and clinical data

“Major advances in research and clinical care can be made by applying new bioinformatics techniques to large, aggregated clinical databases,” says Kohane. “We need to better use the enormous amount of information we derive from health care to develop tools to understand what is happening today,” he adds, “such as which drugs are not working as safely as we thought, which therapies have unexpected benefits, what are the predictors of effective diabetes management and which genetic tests are likely to usefully guide therapy.”

Read more: Personalized Health Informatics Technology in Development

Photo: kosheahan/Flickr

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