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UND proposes center to analyze medical information

GRAND FORKS — Ray Goldsteen says he thinks the University of North Dakota has the solution to making sure people with diabetes get the most effective and efficient care possible: data.

“What do 1,000 or 10,000 providers provide for those patients?” asked the director of UND’s master of public health program. “They can compare their results with 10,000 or 100,000 other patients.

“This information, once analyzed and data-mined, will help new patients explore a comprehensive list of options according to their quality and cost.”

The university’s proposed Center for Comparative Effectiveness Analytics would perform such analysis for many diseases, mining data already collected and compiled by area health care providers.

It was approved Thursday by the State Board of Higher Education’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee and the full board is scheduled to vote June 26.

“It basically analyzes that data to help us make better decisions about clinical care and population health care by looking at best practices and whether people are getting the most effective, efficient care,” Goldsteen said.

He noted that all the data being evaluated — from potential providers such as Sanford Health and Altru Health System, and insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield — are encrypted and wouldn’t betray the confidentiality of any patients.

Goldsteen said the center’s funding would come from either the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which will have a considerable stream of funding coming from the national Affordable Care Act.

If the SBHE approves, CCEA will begin operations this fall at what Goldsteen described as the “pilot level” to demonstrate the center’s value before applying for grants in the spring to support the center on a long-term basis. He said there is a fair amount of interest in funding coming from the private sector.

While the residents of North Dakota and the surrounding region would be the primary beneficiaries of CCEA’s analysis, he said the center could also attract more students.

Training in health-care analytics would prepare students to work for insurance companies or health care providers, he said. “We’re hoping this program will attract more applicants to our program that would come here that normally may not have applied here.”

Garrett Richie
Garrett Richie is a general assignment reporter and digital writer for The Grand Forks Herald. Richie is a 2014 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and is formerly of The Ludington Daily News in Ludington, Mich. Have a good story idea? Contact Richie by either phone or email, both of which are listed below. If you would like to comment on a story, send a letter to the editor with Richie's name and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words, and all letters are subject to editing. Email to or mail to The Grand Forks Herald.
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