The last eighteen months have been months none of us ever wanted to live through. Between pandemics, political unrest, murder hornets, and masking, it seemed like the hits just kept coming. One positive thing this experience has taught us is the critical importance of resources like the Colorado All Payer Claims Database (CO APCD). Here at CIVHC we did the best we could to put that resource to work, both to support pandemic response and to support the world we are living in afterwards. Here are the four coolest things CIVHC did to try to make the best out of this terrible, horrible, no good, really bad year:

  1. Populations at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19: At the beginning of the pandemic, CIVHC analysts put together a map of Colorado identifying the areas of the state with the densest populations of high-risk individuals, according to the CDC definition. This map was later used by the Governor’s Expert Emergency Epidemic Response Committee (GEEERC) to help determine the vaccine roll-out plan and where extra resources would be needed to make sure the most vulnerable Coloradans had access to the care they needed.
  2. Telehealth Cost and Utilization Analysis: At the request of the Office of eHealth Innovation, CIVHC analysts Katie Oberg and Megha Jha did a deep dive into how the pandemic impacted telehealth utilization. This interactive report shows which specialties and populations were able to switch to telehealth most easily and how care patterns were changing. The analysis also looked at costs, allowing the state to get an initial idea about how the pandemic was impacting overall utilization and reimbursement rates for physicians, so they could start to plan for post-pandemic needs. This analysis has been used as a template for similar analyses across the country to help others get a handle on our rapidly changing health care system and is updated regularly to continue to measure trends in utilization.
  3. Geocoding the CO APCD: Starting late last fall, CIVHC worked to geocode the CO APCD. The addition of this geographic information allows CIVHC to merge the data in the CO APCD with data from the census and other socioeconomic and demographic data sets to create more robust reporting about the factors that drive health inequity like race, poverty, education, and many more. Keep an eye out for analyses that explore the connections between health and the non-medical factors that influence health.
  4. Data Quality Team: CIVHC has always made data quality a high priority in our organization, but this last year we made the decision to create a dedicated Data Quality Team. Working alongside our Reporting and Analytics Team, the Data Quality group is focused on identifying and resolving concerns and anomalies in the CO APCD data. With the help of these five analysts, we already have a better understanding the quality of the CO APCD data, and can more readily grasp the normal variances of the data coming from our 70+ submitters. This team is also in charge of bringing in additional, complementary datasets to help give context and meaning to the CO APCD data.

It certainly wasn’t the year we were expecting, but we’re happy to have contributed even a little bit to the incredible work that got us through the pandemic and into a brighter year. We hope to keep building and demonstrating the value of the CO APCD and using it to shed light on issues of health inequity and help build a new normal that works for every Coloradan.

Kristin Paulson, JD MPH is CIVHC’s Chief Operations Officer