For Immediate Release:
March 25, 2019

Kristin Rosengren for AcademyHealth

Today the Milbank Memorial Fund and AcademyHealth announced three finalists for the State and Local Innovation Prize, which recognizes state and local efforts to improve the health of populations and the performance of health systems. This year’s finalists each demonstrated the successful application of data analytics roadmaps (DARs) to address important population health analytic challenges—like defining a population health concept, measuring performance or implementing chronic care improvement strategies —and turn that analysis into information that decision-makers could use to improve health and health care.

“State and local health agencies require robust data and analytics for program design, operations, and evaluation,” said Christopher Koller, president of the Milbank Memorial Fund. “However, these agencies often struggle to translate that data into useful information. By recognizing the work of these finalists, we hope to offer examples of successful roadmaps from which other communities can learn.”

The finalists’ projects include efforts aimed at leveraging shared data to address the opioid crisis, address chronic disease management in a large safety net system, and coordinate public and private resources to establish and manage community health improvement goals. A winner will be chosen from the following three finalists:

Medicaid Outcomes Distributed Research Network (MODRN): Evaluating Medicaid Policies to Address the Opioid Crisis

MODRN is a partnership between academic institutions and Medicaid agencies in nine states.  Each state provides Medicaid claims and encounter and eligibility data to its university partners based on a structured format that helps to standardize the data across the states.  For this project, MODRN is using the standardized Medicaid data set to study opioid use and treatment patterns based on 20 measures in six broad areas:

  • Identification, initiation, and engagement in treatment
  • Duration and quality of medication-treatment for OUD
  • Follow-up and general medical care for enrollees with OUD
  • Opioid and benzodiazepine prescribing
  • Acute care use and overdose outcomes
  • Pregnancy and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) related measures

Through MODRN, states can now compare their results on these measures and work with their peers and  university partners to develop ideas on how they can reduce opioid use and improve treatment.  MODRN addresses data governance and interoperability for Medicaid data; other states can participate in this model and/or replicate the data standards developed by the group.

NYC Health + Hospitals (NYC H+H): Population Health Analytics at Scale in the Largest Safety Net System

NYC H+H has established ambitious goals for population health improvement—and this project demonstrates how they are using data analytics to meet those goals.  With a well-developed structure and processes to address data governance and uses across a very large, disparate health system, NYC H+H developed priorities for population health measures and created a dashboard to make information on those measures readily accessible across the system.  Measure specifications were derived from a number of national and state sources.  Data for these measures are collected from internal systems (e.g., EMR, billing and scheduling) as well as external sources (e.g., data from Medicaid, corrections and other payers).  The Population Health Data Core supports robust data use across the system by increasing data literacy and trust and improving data culture.  Overall, the system has achieved improvements in chronic disease management using the population health priority measures.  The data strategies, tools, and results have been published in open access publications and shared with peers in other large safety net systems.

San Diego County (CA): Live Well San Diego Community Health and Well Being Data System

Live Well San Diego is a comprehensive strategy developed by the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency to improve community health by leveraging data and engaging stakeholders.  Through this initiative, the county is coordinating public and private resources and using integrated data from a variety of sources to target specific improvement goals.  The Public Health Services Community Health Data Unit gathers, aggregates and analyzes data on key population health characteristics.  These data are then assembled into Community Health Profiles that are used by the Live Well Community Leadership Teams to track progress on population health goals identified in the community health improvement plans.  By standardizing the measures derived from these various data sources, and making this code publicly available, anyone who has access to comparable data sets could develop similar reports on community health measures.

A panel of experts reviewed more than 40 applications. They looked for projects that demonstrated innovation in overcoming traditional public sector barriers and challenges to leveraging data for policy and programs, measurable impact on specific metrics of population health, sustainability of effort and likely future impact on policy and programs, and potential to scale and/or replicate.

“Health Datapalooza is all about breaking through the hype and opening up data for analysis and use,” said Lisa Simpson, president and CEO of AcademyHealth. “The finalists’ projects are true to that mission and demonstrate how states and local communities often sit at the forefront of driving innovation for health improvement.”

The winner of the award will be announced on the mainstage of the 2019 Health Datapalooza on March 28.

About the Milbank Memorial Fund

The Milbank Memorial Fund is an endowed operating foundation that works to improve the health of populations by connecting leaders and decision makers with the best available evidence and experience. Founded in 1905, the Fund engages in nonpartisan analysis, collaboration, and communication on significant issues in health policy. It does this work by publishing high-quality, evidence-based reports, books, and The Milbank Quarterly, a peer-reviewed journal of population health and health policy; convening state health policy decision makers on issues they identify as important to population health; and building communities of health policymakers to enhance their effectiveness.

About AcademyHealth
AcademyHealth is a leading national organization serving the fields of health services and policy research and the professionals who produce and use this important work. Together with our members, we offer programs and services that support the development and use of rigorous, relevant and timely evidence to increase the quality, accessibility, and value of health care, to reduce disparities, and to improve health. A trusted broker of information, AcademyHealth brings stakeholders together to address the current and future needs of an evolving health system, inform health policy, and translate evidence into action. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter @AcademyHealth.