Researchers from Indiana University and the Regenstrief Institute were awarded a five year $4.8 million grant by CDC to create the Indiana Center of Excellence in Public Health Informatics, one of only four such centers in the nation. The other centers are located at the University of Utah, University of Pittsburgh, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.
Regenstrief physician-researchers developed the Indiana Network for Patient Care (INPC) with the capability to securely exchange health information. Today, INPC enables medical providers across the state to securely obtain patients’ medical histories.
The new Center of Excellence will bring together the expertise of the Polis Center, a leader in community-based and public health research along with applications using geographic information technologies, the Indiana State Health Department, the Marion County Health Department, the IU School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health, the Department of Geography in the School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University and Purdue University Indianapolis, IUPUI’s Center for Health Geographics, and a unique data visualization group at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Areas of initial work will:
• Identify infants who lack newborn screening and improve the electronic exchange of newborn screening results
• Improve the exchange of immunization data between physicians and public health agencies to prevent both under and over immunizations
• Expand the ability to identify cases and events of potential interest to public health officials and ensure instant delivery of public health alerts to physicians and to other healthcare providers
Much of the work will use DOCS4DOCS ®, a clinical messaging services developed by Regenstrief healthcare IT professors and operated by the Indiana Health Information Exchange. Currently, DOCS4DOCS ® delivers more than 5 million messages along with laboratory reports and other test results.
In another award through ARRA, NIH awarded $538,595 to the Indiana University Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research to support a two-year project titled “Protecting Privacy in Health Research.” The project will assemble a blue-ribbon panel of experts in medical research, privacy, security, law, ethics, and patient advocacy from eleven national and international partner organizations. The experts will work collaboratively to develop new approaches to protecting the privacy and security of personal data used in health research, while striving to reduce the challenges imposed by the current HIPAA’s “Privacy Rule”.
The grant proposal was in response to a February 2009 report by IOM Committee on “Health Research and the Privacy of Health Information” which stated that Congress should authorize HHS to develop a new approach to protecting privacy in health research that would exempt health research from the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
The IOM then crafted a broad outline and made recommendations on how to handle the issue. NIH through this grant funding program will use the input from IOM and from the medical security experts and scholars to complete a more detailed set of recommendations.
Plans for the IU project propose to deliver:
• A more fully developed version of the IOM’s primary recommendations to develop a new approach by moving away from HIPAA’s reliance on narrow bureaucratic measures
• A written legislative history that will summarize the existing research, highlight the key policy choices, and identify the panel that made the specific recommendations
Panelists will meet several times over the next 18 months to work and will submit their recommendations by May 2011.