MADISON, N.J. & ATLANTA—Quest Diagnostics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have begun a multi-year collaboration to identify trends in screening, diagnosis and treatment for four strains of viral hepatitis in the United States. Per the agreement, Quest Diagnostics will provide the CDC with analytics expertise and access to its national Quest Diagnostics Health Trends database of anonymized clinical testing hepatitis data. The company's collection is the largest private clinical database of diagnostic testing information in the United States and is based on more than 20 billion de-identified test results. This collaboration represents the first fee-based contract for hepatitis-related research the CDC has awarded to a diagnostic information services provider.
This collaboration supersedes a non-fee-based agreement the two organizations established in July 2013, under which Quest Diagnostics and the CDC jointly analyzed de-identified hepatitis C testing data in Quest's database for individuals born between 1945 and 1965.
"Our partnership with CDC reflects the growing value of data analytics in health care to improve decision making, both for population health and in a clinical setting," Dr. Rick L. Pesano, vice president of research and development and medical director for infectious diseases at Quest Diagnostics, said in a press release. "Transforming data into insights to measure and predict behaviors and outcomes will be increasingly important as the nation's healthcare system moves to fill gaps in guideline-based care."
The collaboration will seek to generate diagnostic-based insights that can improve public health authorities' ability to develop and monitor medical guidelines meant to reduce disease prevalence and improve patient outcomes through earlier diagnosis and treatment. Experts from Quest Diagnostics and the CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis will analyze de-identified test results from the Quest Diagnostics Health Trends national database for hepatitis A, B, C and E viral infection in American adults ages 18 years and over. The analysis will include the results of screening and confirmatory diagnostic tests, as well as treatment-guiding genotyping and viral load tests by gender, age group, geography and type of physician. The organizations will collaborate to develop study designs and protocols based on Quest's proprietary data-mining techniques to identify any patterns in disease prevalence and the clinical management of patients.
One of the objectives of this agreement is the identification and monitoring of trends in hepatitis B and C viral infection in pregnant women, as well as the characterization of these patients by demographics and physician type. Approximately 40 percent of untreated newborns infected with hepatitis B in utero will go on to develop chronic hepatitis, and one in four of those will die from liver disease. Though CDC guidelines suggest that pregnant women be screened for hepatitis B, hepatitis C screening is only recommended when other risks are present. Recent years have seen the CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis partnering with Quest Diagnostics and others to add pregnancy status to hepatitis B lab test orders to improve surveillance of infected mothers.
"The innovative collaboration with Quest Diagnostics will allow us to use data analytics to better monitor the implementation of CDC's testing guidelines and progress toward reducing deaths from hepatitis," said John W. Ward, MD, director of CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis. "Increased testing is critical to ensure that those who are infected with hepatitis receive life-saving care and treatment."
SOURCE: Quest Diagnostics press release