It seems like every other day we're hearing about a new group of forward-thinkers in health care coming together around data analytics, whether it's insurers, health systems or doctors. Now, two neighboring state hospital associations are doing the same, pooling their data resources to transform care across state lines.

The Illinois and Missouri hospital associations, representing some 370 institutions, announced earlier this month that they're forming a partnership to help push their members toward value-based care more quickly. The two institutions are opening an innovation lab as a base for the venture, and they plan to gather and provide actionable data to assist hospitals with predicting the next swerves in the market and improving the care they deliver.

Maryjane Wurth, president and CEO of the Illinois Hospital Association, says that member hospitals from both groups were already working together, and it made sense for the two organizations to collaborate in a similar fashion.

"We both found that we were very like-minded, that our goals were very ambitious and that we had complementary strengths within our 60 years' worth of data capabilities between the two associations," Wurth says. "Frankly, our members are partnering and collaborating and we thought that we, too, could be better together than trying to do this separately."

IHA and MHA leaders certainly aren't alone in their line of thinking, as we've seen tons of these new partnerships pop up, though I couldn't find any others between state hospital associations. About a year ago, the influential Mayo Clinic and a unit of the insurer UnitedHealth announced they were forming a collaboration to share data comprising some 115 million patients. There, researchers will use de-identified claims data, coupled with clinical information, to find trends and common treatment pathways for complex and chronic conditions. Last year, we also explored how UnitedHealth and three large systems are sharing supply chain data to cut down on variation. There have been many other examples too numerous to list, but my colleague, Paul Barr, rounded up a handful last year.

Wurth says there seems to be a thirst in the industry for evidence, and it's only going to grow as more hospitals make the leap to a value-based model of care.

"There's a real spotlight on performance and the need for valid, accurate data to help make decisions and ensure that we're measuring our progress with patient outcomes," she says. "The demand for evidence versus concept is certainly there from the advocacy side, and we all need to be reacting to it. The whole world is being driven by increased transparency and access to data, and we support that."

The collaborating hospital associations also plan to keep an eye on technological advances in the field, develop products and services, and get those offerings to the market at a quicker speed than usual, according to a press release. Both MHA and IHA have already been providing data analytics services to some 1,400 health care organizations across several states, and IHA also collaborates with BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois around readmissions data.

Wurth says it's certainly possible that more states and even insurers could join the collaborative in the future.

"We've already had some express interest in hearing more about the partnership," she says. "I think we're all entering into a brave new world, and partnerships are an effective way to go on many of these issues," she says.