Utilizing Distributed Data

A distributed health data network advances the secondary use of electronic health information by creating standardized and re-usable data sources in multiple sites, as well as tools to use them. In a distributed system, each data partner maintains physical control of their data behind their firewalls, protected by their security processes and rules. This approach eliminates the need to create, secure, maintain, and manage access to a complex central data warehouse, minimizes the need to disclose protected health information, and allows data partners to assess, track, and authorize query requests, or categories of requests on a case-by-case basis, thus facilitating participation.

Building a Distributed Network

The PopMedNetTM application allows investigators to create and securely distribute “requests” (of which a query is a type of request) to network data partners and to have data partners review, execute, and securely return the results of those requests to the investigators via a secure Web-based “Portal”. Data partners maintain control of their data (within what is called a “DataMart”), can review all queries before execution, and review results before securely transferring back to the Portal. Data partners can automate any portion of the query procedure. The figure shown below illustrates the flow of requests and information within the system.PopMedNetOverview

Investigators make a “Request” (a query is a type of request) through the PopMedNet Portal (a Web based application) to the individual Data Providers in the network. Depending upon the network protocols, the data provider protocols, the project protocols, the investigator’s role, and the type of request (all managed within PopMedNet), PopMedNet decides which Data Providers are available to receive a request. Requests travel to each Data Provider, and there the Data Mart Administrator uses the PopMedNet Data Mart application to review the request, run it if desired, review the result, and then return the result to the Investigator. Meanwhile the Investigator uses the PopMedNet Portal to track the status of the request at all the Data Providers and retrieve the results when they are available.