'Big data' is changing American medical care

Mayo's Optum Labs is one of several projects nationally that analyze massive banks of patient records and medical data to see what works best in health care.

Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)

Established by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 and based in Washington, D.C., PCORI funds studies that compare the efficacy of various treatment options, known as "comparative effectiveness research." It is funded by the federal government, plus fees assessed on Medicare and on private insurance plans.

Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI)

Launched in 2011 by four of the nation's largest insurance companies — UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Humana and Kaiser Permanente — the institute examines health spending and studies the effectiveness of treatments. The insurers gave researchers access to their claims data, which now includes 5 billion medical records. IBM Watson

The computer that became a "Jeopardy!" champion is now helping medical researchers. Cancer specialists at Sloan Kettering in New York are using Watson to match patients to clinical results, treatment histories and health outcomes for similar patients. Mayo is working with Watson to more quickly match cancer patients with clinical trials.

Blue Health Intelligence

Owned by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its affiliates but available to outside researchers, the database includes medical and prescription claims data from more than 140 million individuals covered by Blue Cross over a nine-year period. The data are being used to help identify patients at risk of disease.

Flatiron Health

Founded in 2012, the New York-based software company aggregates data on cancer patients and makes the data available to oncologists. Google Ventures invested $130 million this spring to accelerate the use of genomic data, billing information and other elements of electronic patient records, such as doctors' notes, to improve cancer treatments.

Cleveland Clinic

Spun off its big data effort into a venture known as Explorys, which is used by about two dozen integrated hospital systems to identify patterns in diseases, treatments and outcomes. The database includes information from 50 million patient records, 360 hospitals and more than 317,000 providers.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Launched a five-year, $120 million big data partnership with Oracle, IBM, Informatica and dbMotion in 2012 to focus on personalized medicine and new models of care. A large payer, provider and academic research center, its first milestone was to link clinical and genomic information on 140 breast cancer patients.

Jackie Crosby