LexisNexis aims to help health researchers do more with data

The company touts a new patient-centered token as a tool to produce better research and transform healthcare.

The healthcare system collects vast amounts of data, but the challenge is gathering all of that data and using it effectively.

LexisNexis Risk Solutions touts a new tool it has developed to help researchers and healthcare organizations make better use of that data. The company, which is looking to build a larger presence in the healthcare industry, has recently developed what it calls a “Patient Centric Token” that can offer more precision in data for research.

With this token, LexisNexis said it can match patient records more precisely with more sophisticated de-identification technology.

Records can become flawed or fragmented for a host of reasons. If someone moves, gets married, changes a name, or gets divorced, it’s easy for some information to get lost.

With its new token, LexisNexis can help provide more accurate pictures of patients, while fully protecting privacy and removing identifying details, said Jeff Diamond, president of the healthcare division of LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

In a recent phone interview with Chief Healthcare Executive, Diamond said the LexisNexis token offers the potential to dramatically improve healthcare by giving researchers improved records of patients.

“What it hopefully means is better care, better research and better drugs,” Diamond said.

Because of name changes or people moving, there are over 5 billion variations of the identities for 285 million American adults, the company noted.

Many of those patient records aren’t complete. Especially if someone moves a lot, patient records can easily be entered incorrectly (for example, if someone enters in a birthday incorrectly or misspells a name).

LexisNexis points to the enormity of its patient database and its ability to link different sets of data.

“We have a huge repository in consumer data,” Diamond said. “We know every address variation.” And the company has records on name variations as well.

LexisNexis can aggregate data more accurately to offer more precise information on patients. Life science organizations can do better research with the token, Diamond said.

“It’s those life science organizations that we think out of the gate have a greater need for real world data and greater precision for real world data,” Diamond said.

The LexisNexis token’s value is in its ability to de-identify patient records and retain the information that can be valuable to researchers.

With improved data, researchers gain "a better or more complete view of patients or a cohort of patients,” Diamond said.

“You need to know their underlying conditions, the types of drugs they are on. That’s the data that’s important,” Diamond explained. “What matters is that it belongs to an individual. That’s the information that you can use to better inform your studies and your research.”

Down the road, the LexisNexis token can help providers get a better picture of patient outcomes, he said.

Developing a token that shields the identity of patients while retaining the data about their medications or their community “changes the landscape of what medical researchers are going to be capable of doing,” Diamond said.

“Creating a token is not all that complicated,” Diamond said. “Precision is complicated.”

With improved records and data sets, healthcare organizations can gain more information to address health equity, Diamond said. LexisNexis has records on the social determinants of health for nearly all American adults. In addition, its token can offer researchers information on individual incomes and patients' neighborhoods.

If researchers have more data about patients’ communities or if they’re exposed to more pollution or crime, they can produce studies with a better assessment on how treatments affect different groups.

“When you layer that in outcome data, you can see if inequities exist and why they exist,” Diamond said.

LexisNexis sees a great deal of potential for growth in its healthcare division, which services providers, payers, government agencies, healthcare technology, drug companies and retail pharmacies. Diamond said providing access to advanced datasets is right in the company’s wheelhouse.

“We have a lot of capability that can service a very large swath of the healthcare ecosystem,” Diamond said.

LexisNexis also has the assets to help healthcare companies with better workflow solutions, Diamond said.

When asked about his expectations for the future, Diamond said, “In five years, LexisNexis will be known as a premier healthcare data analytics business.”