Arizona boosts health data system with SAS technology

The Arizona Health Query, a project designed to develop and maintain a community health data system for Arizona residents, is using analytics software to integrate and analyze healthcare records. The AZHQ database will use technology from Cary, N. C.-based SAS to analyze data over time and across health systems to help researchers identify specific community health needs and inform public policy. AZHQ, created by Arizona State University’s Center for Health Information and Research, consolidates health information from dozens of healthcare organizations in Arizona to form a community health data system. AZHQ has more than 40 data partners, including the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid system. “With the participation of many public and private healthcare data partners, we’re able to apply SAS data integration and analytics capabilities to track patients over time and location and identify trends and patterns in healthcare within and across communities,” said Wade Bannister, creator of the AZHQ database and associate director for CHiR. William Johnson, who founded AZHQ and directs CHiR, said SAS’ predictive analytics presents an opportunity for cost savings. Using SAS’ software, he and fellow researchers analyzed AHCCCS data to develop a model that predicted risk associated with future high-cost Medicaid users. “By assessing risk factors and predicting costs of patient care years in advance, steps can be taken to alleviate costs through intervention and more informed budget decisions,” he said. “The breadth of data in the system makes it unique in the U.S.,” said Johnson. “With the advanced research capabilities we have, we’re confident our partnership with the community impacts Arizona healthcare in a very positive way.”

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