doctor in PPE data analytics

Chicago launches health analytics platform for COVID-19

To centralize hospital information in the fight against COVID-19, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) partnered with Rush University Medical Center (RUMC) to launch a comprehensive COVID data resource and exchange hub.

Described in an August 2020 paper, the project’s goals were to use standardized, interoperable data to generate insights on regional bed capacity, better capture of risk factors and clinical variables among COVID patients and reduce the reporting burden.

Launched in early December, the tool pulls CDPH-mandated data into a common platform, enabling better data reporting and case tracking while also highlighting trends and risk mitigation strategies.

Data being input by all 28 Chicago-area hospitals into an Azure cloud-based environment includes electronic lab reporting (ELR) data, which tracks COVID-19 tests administered in Chicago; data pulled from sites using the Epic electronic health records system; and near-real-time data on hospital bed counts across the city.

The partners were able to augment the standardized patient data formatted to the HL7 Consolidated Clinical Data Architecture with ELR feeds to create more complete patient records. They also established secure data exchange methods, developed a cloud-based architecture for secure data storage and analytics, and built dashboards to monitor capacity and disease burden, the paper said.

“By streamlining reporting of common data sets, we have a much better understanding of which hospitals are treating COVID-19 patients and how it is spreading across different groups.” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement.

“Not only does this help us to better understand the spread, it also empowers us to better match patients with the places that can most effectively treat them,” said Dr. Omar Lateef, CEO of RUMC, where the health information will be stored and analyzed for CDPH. “Not all hospitals have the same resources and being better able to match patients with clinical capabilities will save lives.”

The platform, which took only 30 days to build, thanks to agile development, features several ways to share critical data and a core set of dashboards that show total patients by date, patient counts by ZIP code and date as well as the number of patients per participating hospital.

“We have done in a few months what would have taken years to do before,” Arwady said.

Besides addressing immediate needs, researchers plan to use the platform to look at health equity issues, studying the co-morbidity and age distribution differences within communities of color, CDPH officials said.

“We see this public health and clinical data registry as an informative example of the power of common standards across electronic records, and a potential template for future extension of the use of standards to improve public health surveillance,” Dr. Bala Hota, RUMC Chief Analytics Officer and first author of the paper, wrote.

The partners are working to secure a federal grant “to further enhance reporting and ultimately inform how a potential vaccine could lead to immunization registries, like those that exist for children,” Hota said. “Ultimately, it is our hope that this tool will help us identify new hot spots or even new syndromes. It also has the potential to be an infrastructure model that helps us better combat chronic disease and major causes of morbidity.”

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.

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