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Boston researchers lead $15 million federal research grant to support advancement of health IT

Boston, Mass. Researchers at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School will lead the efforts of a $15 million grant recently announced from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support research and development of a new health care information technology infrastructure. The grant is one of four awarded through the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) program to address key challenges in adoption and meaningful use of health IT and is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The four-year project will be led by Isaac Kohane, MD, PhD, and Kenneth Mandl, MD, MPH, of the Children's Hospital Informatics Program and Harvard Medical School, and will investigate, evaluate, and prototype approaches to achieving an "iPhone-like" health information technology platform model, as was first described by Mandl and Kohane in a March 2009 Perspectives article in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The platform architecture, described as a "SMArt" (Substitutable Medical Applications, reusable technologies) architecture, will provide core services and support extensively networked data from across the health system, as well as facilitate substitutable applications enabling the equivalent of the iTunes App Store for health. This will stand in stark contrast to the way health information systems have been designed and implemented to date, and will encourage evolution, competition, innovation and efficiency in health care and technology.

This new approach to a health information infrastructure was the focus of a June 2009 working group meeting at the Harvard Medical School Center for Biomedical Informatics and an October 2009 HIT meeting which brought together more than 100 key stakeholders across academia, government and industry in an exploration of innovative ways to transform the national health IT system.

The SMArt platform will provide a common interface to the "App Store" for the Indivo open source personally controlled health record platform developed by the CHIP team more than a decade ago, as well as open source platforms created by other subcontractors on the ONC grant: Partners HealthCare System's i2b2 analytic platform and the Regenstrief Institute's CareWeb EHR.

Organizations across the health ecosystem will partner with the research team on efforts to translate their solutions into real-world practice.


Contact: Keri Stedman
Children's Hospital Boston

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