Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Launches Alliance For Health Research

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) 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.

CHICAGO – Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) today 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 (Alliance) 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 give 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.”

Other initial Alliance partners include:

Janet Currie, Ph.D.
Princeton University
Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs

Eric Topol, M.D.
Scripps Translational Science Institute
Director, Scripps Translational Science Institute

Arnold Milstein, M.D., MPH
Stanford University
Professor of Medicine

Jamie Robinson, Ph.D., M.PH.
University of California Berkeley
Leonard D. Schaeffer Professor of Health Economics

David Meltzer, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Chicago
Fanny L. Pritzker Professor of Medicine

David Kendrick, M.D., M.PH.
University of Oklahoma
Chair, Department of Medical Informatics, University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine

Harlan Krumholz, M.D., S.M.
Yale University
Harold H. Hines, Jr. Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Professor in the Institute for Social and Policy Studies, of Investigative Medicine and of Public Health

For more information, contact Melissa Rehfus at the BCBS Alliance for Health Research.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Indexsm. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out our blog.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 36 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.