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Discovery insights

Explore the data-driven research of OptumLabs.

OptumLabs is an open, collaborative research and innovation center. Together with our partners, we accelerate improvements in patient care and value through scientific discovery and innovation, driven by insights from big data.

Our partners conduct studies leveraging the OptumLabs database of de-identified clinical and claims data on more than 200 million lives representing both commercially insured and Medicare Advantage populations.

Learn about some of our high-impact studies below.


Hospital Observation Use for Older Patients

Published in Medical Care Research Review, patients 65+ enrolled in commercial plans may be kept under hospital observation at much higher rates than younger patients — and that trend has increased over time. How does this impact patient care and out-of-pocket costs?


Osteoporosis health services following first hip fracture among women

Osteoporosis is a leading cause of disability and loss of independence among older Americans, yet often goes unrecognized and untreated. Beyond recommended preventive osteoporosis screening in all women 65+, hip fracture events are important secondary opportunities to identify and treat osteoporosis and prevent future fractures.

Published in The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, this study found fewer than one in five women received evidence-based recommended osteoporosis screening and/or treatment within six months of a first hip fracture.

Minimizing these missed opportunities to identify and treat the underlying disease can reduce medical costs and improve the quality of life of aging Americans suffering from osteoporosis.


Increasing emergency department visits for anaphylaxis

Emergency departments (EDs) are the front line for diagnosing and treating anaphylaxis — potentially life-threatening allergic reactions to common things such as food, medication or insect bites.

This large, contemporary study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice highlights a doubling in rates of anaphylaxis ED visits in the U.S. over the recent decade (2005–2014). Visits related to food allergies increased the most among children, and medication-related anaphylaxis visits were increasingly common, particularly among adults 65+.

These insights can support patient, provider and policy education on tactics to effectively prepare for, evaluate and treat anaphylaxis.


Impact of hospital status on outcomes and utilization among emergency department patients with chest pain

Chest pain is the second most common cause for emergency department (ED) visits in the US. Even patients with a low risk for heart attack are often admitted to the hospital for observation and cardiac testing in order to monitor symptoms that may take time to present.

Published in Academic Emergency Medicine, this study found the majority of adults who came to the ED with chest pain between 2010 and 2014 could have been safely sent home after observation without needing to be admitted for a more costly hospitalization.

Findings are informing shared decision making aids to help providers explain heart attack risk to patients with chest pain in the ED and engage patients in choosing the next step in care that is right for them.


Intensive treatment and severe hypoglycemia among adults with type 2 diabetes

The medical community has witnessed adverse effects of tight glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. This is the first study to rigorously quantify the prevalence of intensive treatment in diabetes patients — across all ages and complexity levels — and to ascertain whether hypoglycemia risk posed by intensive treatment differs between these groups.

Intensive glucose-lowering treatment nearly doubled the risk of severe hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetes patients who were older or had serious chronic health conditions.

These findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, provide scientific evidence and support for current practice guideline recommendations to avoid intensive therapy in high-risk type 2 diabetes patient populations.


Impact of PSA screening trials and revised guidelines on rates of prostate biopsy and post-biopsy complications

Practice guidelines have changed dramatically over the past decade around routine PSA screening in the general population. This study is the largest to examine the impact of PSA screening trials and revised guidelines on rates of prostate biopsy. It is the first to examine the impact on post-biopsy complications.

From 2005–2014, absolute rates of prostate biopsy and biopsy complications decreased — yet the proportion of men undergoing biopsy who experience a complication continues to rise.

These results, published in European Urology, describe the rates and nature of the complications. Researchers also identify the top predictors of 30-day complications, which may guide future decision-making for patients and clinicians considering biopsy.


Patterns of anticoagulation use and cardioembolic risk after catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation

Many patients with atrial fibrillation stop taking anticoagulants before the recommended time of at least 3 months after a catheter ablation procedure. Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA), this study demonstrates that any time off anticoagulants during this post-procedure period increases risk for stroke, and high risk patients may require continuous anticoagulation to prevent stroke.

Clinicians may use this evidence when communicating the importance of anticoagulation after ablation to prevent stroke to their patients, and when creating individualized care plans on based patient risk factors.