By Jonathan Mathieu, PhD, CIVHC’s VP of Data and Delivery

A large part of my job here at CIVHC is the creation and nurturing of collaborations with organizations across the nation. Many times these relationships are built while working alongside likeminded individuals, striving to improve health care through projects like the Total Cost of Care led by the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI) or the investigation into variation in cost and quality performance across health systems with researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and Harvard University.

In other instances, I have the opportunity to provide organizations with tools to help change health care through data sets and custom reports from the Colorado All Payer Claims Database (CO APCD). As VP of Data and Delivery, my team and I work with requestors throughout the process, helping them refine their data needs to support specific projects and coaching them in the capabilities and appropriate use of claims data. Involvement in these partnerships are one of my favorite parts of the job. CO APCD data requestors’ desire to take on complex health care problems is inspiring and their projects have the potential to improve population health and the quality of care delivered – who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

Below are a few ways CIVHC has supported Change Agents with data from the CO APCD in their efforts to improve health care for us all.

USE CASE: Skin Cancer Prevalence in Colorado and Across the Nation

Located in Boston, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is a major teaching facility affiliated with Harvard University. BWH is an internationally renowned organization, serving patients around the world.

Project Summary: Researchers at BWH are estimating the occurrence, treatment, and cost of skin cancer in the United States. CO  APCD data is being combined with data from other APCDs and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Analysis of the data will indicate the economic impact of skin cancer, determine any care and outcome disparities between regions, and identify possible trends in prevalence and treatment.

Benefit to Colorado: Colorado’s incidence of skin cancer is higher than the nationwide average. BWH’s analysis will be an excellent tool to help inform targeted action to reduce the prevalence of the disease and aid in cost reduction strategies.

Click here to listen to our Change Agent Chat with BWH.

USE CASE: Understanding How Individuals Choose Health Insurance Plans

Harvard Medical School’s Department of Health Care Policy works to improve the health of the public through comprehensive health policy research.

Project Summary: The requestors aimed to use CO APCD data to understand how individuals determine which health insurance plan to purchase in three markets: the Colorado ACA Marketplace, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid Managed Care. Specifically, they were interested in adverse selection, the tendency of sicker consumers to choose more expensive plans offering more generous coverage while healthy people choose lesser coverage with a lower price tag. Adverse selection results in higher costs for insurers and consumers while creating an imbalance in the insurance marketplace.

Benefit to Colorado: By understanding the consequences of adverse selection and how insurance plans can protect themselves, this project can help Colorado take necessary steps to ensure a healthy insurance marketplace.

USE CASE: Efficacy of Immunosuppressants

Arbor Research Collaborative for Health conducts major studies in epidemiology and public health. They collaborate closely with faculty and researchers from other major research organizations in the United States and around the world to perform research that affects clinical practice, policy development, and medical payment systems. Since 1997, they have engaged in national and international health outcomes research related to chronic disease and end-stage organ failure.

Project Summary:  Immunosuppressant medications prevent transplant recipients from rejecting their new organs. FDA-approved versions of generic immunosuppressant medications are now available. Arbor Research used CO APCD data to estimate the proportions of generic and brand name immunosuppressant medications dispensed over time.  The study was funded by a grant from the FDA. This research aims to elucidate patterns of generic adoption and investigate the implications of generic substitution.

Benefit to Colorado: These analyses highlighted trends in prescriptions dispensed for generic and brand name immunosuppressant medications among transplant recipients. Arbor Research was able to document the trend in generic drug prescriptions shortly after the approval of each drug. Moving forward, the results of this project could inform efforts to improve care for transplant patients in Colorado and across the nation. Click here to view results of this analysis.

For more examples of how CO APCD data is being used to realize the Triple Aim goals of better health, better care and lower cost, visit the Change Agent Gallery on