Healthy Nevada Project looks to SAS® Analytics to unlock health insights

Landmark population health study involving 50,000 northern Nevadans turns to SAS to reveal hidden health insights

Launched in 2016, the Healthy Nevada Project is combining genetic, clinical, environmental and socioeconomic data to better understand the complex interplay between these factors and related effects on population health. This first-of-its-kind study has the potential to help Nevada address some of its most complex population health problems – but investigators must first make sense of all the data. For that task, the Renown Institute for Health Innovation (Renown IHI) has chosen analytics leader SAS.

Researchers, doctors and data scientists from Renown IHI are using SAS to develop a health determinants platform that will surface population health risks from patient variables such as gender, age, and personal or family health history. The platform will also model public health risks ranging from disease and illness to the effects of environmental factors such as air quality.

“SAS is the only vendor in the advanced analytics market with the proven capability and capacity to extract, control and infer numerically validated results from extraordinarily large data sets like those in the health care and environmental science sectors,” said Jim Metcalf, Chief Data Scientist of the Healthy Nevada Project.

Insights and understandings gained from SAS Analytics are helping Renown IHI analyze population health outcomes and their correlations to participant genetic information and varying environmental factors such as air and water quality.

“We are working to understand how environmental factors can help predict who may be at risk, allow for quicker diagnoses, and encourage the development of more precise treatments,” Metcalf added. “The modern statistical and machine learning methods, along with the intuitive data visualizations made possible by SAS software, have been critical elements of our success to date.”

The pilot phase of the Healthy Nevada Project enrolled 10,000 participants in less than 48 hours and then completed subsequent DNA sample collection from each participant in just 60 working days. The second phase of the study will offer open enrollment to an additional 40,000 Nevadans starting in March 2018.

“This groundbreaking study has real potential to change health care as we know it – not just in Nevada but around the world,” said Mark Lambrecht, Director of the Health and Life Sciences Global Practice at SAS. “How does environmental variation contribute to outcomes? What role does one’s genetics play? SAS is the analytics engine with the power to help Nevada answer these questions and others. Together, we can accelerate advances in precision medicine and the data-driven health innovations and research that lead to higher-quality care and better outcomes for all.”

Nevada residents can sign up to be notified when second phase enrollment opens. Study participants are given no-cost access to genetic testing.

Attendees of HIMSS, the industry's largest health information and technology conference, can visit SAS Booth 7807 to learn more about the groundbreaking study, March 5-9 in Las Vegas.

About Renown Institute for Health Innovation

Renown Institute for Health Innovation is a collaboration between Renown Health – a locally governed and locally owned, not-for-profit integrated healthcare network serving Nevada, Lake Tahoe and northeast California; and the Desert Research Institute – a recognized world leader in investigating the effects of natural and human-induced environmental change and advancing technologies aimed at assessing a changing planet. Renown IHI research teams are focused on integrating personal healthcare and environmental data with socioeconomic determinants to help Nevada address some of its most complex environmental health problems; while simultaneously expanding the state’s access to leading-edge clinical trials and fostering new connections with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Learn more at

About SAS

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