Electronic health records provider Allscripts recently reached a multi-year agreement with Inovalon, a Bowie, Md.-based health data analytics firm. The partnership lets Inovalon, which analyzes large volumes of data to automatically suggest tests or care options to healthcare providers, mine Allscript’s millions of patient records in addition to existing databases.

Inovalon’s algorithm pulls from various data sources including pharmaceutical companies, labs, and demographic statistics, chief executive Keith Dunleavy said. Its clients — primarily health plan providers, physicians and researchers — use the analysis to assess the effectiveness of health plans or identify where additional treatment is required. Inovalon currently supports 220,000 clinical facilities, and 550,000 health care providers covering 140 million Americans, Dunleavy said. Without an automated process, providers must manually recall information about the tests their patients may require as well as the documentation process, he explained.

Allscripts “has access to the data. Once we get the data, it becomes part of the Inovalon analytics engine, sponsored by payers. They can then crunch the data for payers, to see how care is being provided,” Faisal Mushtaq, Allscripts’ general manager for payer and life science business, said. He added that Allscripts will continue pursuing partnerships with other analytics firms.

Mushtaq said he thinks the Affordable Care Act — whose coverage is expected to begin in 2014 — could make healthcare analytics more valuable. “The government is looking to reduce the cost of care, but at the same time measure clinical outcomes. [Data] will influence some of the decision making process. If the Affordable Care Act had not come, the investment around these kinds of initiative would have been slower.”