Reading: The Visit-Data Warehouse: Enabling Novel Secondary Use of Health Information Exchange Data


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The Visit-Data Warehouse: Enabling Novel Secondary Use of Health Information Exchange Data


William Fleischman ,

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, Yale University School of Medicine
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Tina Lowry,

Healthix, Inc.
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Jason Shapiro

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
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Introduction/Objectives: Health Information Exchange (HIE) efforts face challenges with data quality and performance, and this becomes especially problematic when data is leveraged for uses beyond primary clinical use. We describe a secondary data infrastructure focusing on patient-encounter, nonclinical data that was built on top of a functioning HIE platform to support novel secondary data uses and prevent potentially negative impacts these uses might have otherwise had on HIE system performance.

Background: HIE efforts have generally formed for the primary clinical use of individual clinical providers searching for data on individual patients under their care, but many secondary uses have been proposed and are being piloted to support care management, quality improvement, and public health.

Description of the HIE and Base Infrastructure: This infrastructure review describes a module built into the Healthix HIE. Healthix, based in the New York metropolitan region, comprises 107 participating organizations with 29,946 acute-care beds in 383 facilities, and includes more than 9.2 million unique patients. The primary infrastructure is based on the InterSystems proprietary Caché data model distributed across servers in multiple locations, and uses a master patient index to link individual patients’ records across multiple sites. We built a parallel platform, the “visit data warehouse,” of patient encounter data (demographics, date, time, and type of visit) using a relational database model to allow accessibility using standard database tools and flexibility for developing secondary data use cases. These four secondary use cases include the following: (1) tracking encounter-based metrics in a newly established geriatric emergency department (ED), (2) creating a dashboard to provide a visual display as well as a tabular output of near-real-time de-identified encounter data from the data warehouse, (3) tracking frequent ED users as part of a regional-approach to case management intervention, and (4) improving an existing quality improvement program that analyzes patients with return visits to EDs within 72 hours of discharge.

Results/Lessons Learned: Setting up a separate, near-real-time, encounters-based relational database to complement an HIE built on a hierarchical database is feasible, and may be necessary to support many secondary uses of HIE data. As of November 2014, the visit-data warehouse (VDW) built by Healthix is undergoing technical validation testing and updates on an hourly basis. We had to address data integrity issues with both nonstandard and missing HL7 messages because of varied HL7 implementation across the HIE. Also, given our HIEs federated structure, some sites expressed concerns regarding data centralization for the VDW. An established and stable HIE governance structure was critical in overcoming this initial reluctance.

Conclusions: As secondary use of HIE data becomes more prevalent, it may be increasingly necessary to build separate infrastructure to support secondary use without compromising performance. More research is needed to determine optimal ways of building such infrastructure and validating its use for secondary purposes.

How to Cite: Fleischman W, Lowry T, Shapiro J. The Visit-Data Warehouse: Enabling Novel Secondary Use of Health Information Exchange Data. eGEMs (Generating Evidence & Methods to improve patient outcomes). 2014;2(1):19. DOI:
Published on 09 Dec 2014.
Peer Reviewed


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