New Public Use Files Released by MN Solicit Innovative APCD Use Cases

According to a recent press release from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Minnesota has become the first state in the Midwest – and only the sixth in the entire nation – to publish summary-level health insurance claims files using data compiled from their all-payer claims database (MN APCD). These files, available to the public free of charge and generated by Onpoint, will enable members of the healthcare community – from researchers and health improvement leaders to providers and payers – to learn more about the types of healthcare services provided in Minnesota, including their outcomes and associated costs. The release of these summary files is MDH's most recent legislative milestone in expanding the use of the MN APCD in an effort to foster insight regarding variations and disparities in healthcare use and quality and to support price transparency.

The State of Minnesota is a pioneer when it comes to turning data into actionable analysis. Leveraging the data from its statewide APCD, developed and operated by Onpoint since 2009, Minnesota is able to help drive the state's achievement of the Triple Aim by drilling into and investigating the state's healthcare system to identify areas for improvement. This expanded functionality coming after the state's APCD Workgroup's January 2015 report, in which it called for the Legislature to expand the use of the MN APCD, initially by creating public use files and summary tables.

This first round of public data from the MN APCD summarizes the health conditions, healthcare costs, healthcare services, and places of service listed by the first three digits of the ZIP codes reported on medical claims, addressing small cell-size constraints to protect the identities of individual patients, providers, and claim providers. The first set of data files and summary tables were prepared by Onpoint earlier this spring and can be obtained by completing and sending a public use file data request form to MDH. According to MDH, additional aggregation of data based on input from data users may follow.

To date, the Minnesota Legislature has restricted the use of the MN APCD to MDH staff and its contractors to perform analyses on variation in cost, quality, utilization, and disease burden, as well as for certain evaluation activities. To explore additional interest areas and health improvement opportunities using the MN APCD, these new summary files will serve as a way for researchers and the public to join in the exploration, demonstrating the ongoing value of the MN APCD through the development of new and innovative use cases and analyses. According to MDH, "broader engagement with the data will also help inform MDH's continuing efforts to improve the quality and effectiveness of the data and may help prioritize research at the agency.

"We look forward to engaging with potential data users," says Stefan Gildemeister, director of the MDH Health Economics Program. "This will help us create an evolving set of data over time and inform our own research."