Zuckerberg-backed initiative at UCSF looks to merge EHR data across 5 medical centers

Precision for Medicine
UCSF plans to adance precision medicine efforts through new research that pulls in EHR data from across five medical centers.

Backed by a $10 million grant from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, M.D., the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) has launched a new research initiative aimed at consolidating health data across five UC medical centers into one broad research database.

The funding will go toward the UCSF’s Institute for Computational Health Sciences (ICHS), led by Atul Butte, M.D., who was named the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg distinguished professor at USCF, according to an announcement from the University.

The grant money will fund faculty recruitment at ICHS as well as a “knowledge network” that collates health data from a variety of sources to identify patterns. As part of that network, Butte is leading a major effort to integrate data buried in EHRs across the University of California’s five medical centers, which contain information on more than 15 million patients.

“This is among the richest and most diverse medical datasets in the world—much more than just a set of billing codes,” Butte said in a release. “And, because the data come from our patients, the data are an incredible resource for UC hospitals to improve the quality of care we deliver throughout California.”

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Butte said that data can be used to speed drug discovery and development, improve quality care and identify disease patterns. Stanford researchers recently used EHR data to predict which patients will experience an irregular heartbeat following a stroke.

The research is part of broader efforts at UCSF to advance precision medicine and integrate machine learning into healthcare data. The medical center has been developing homegrown tools into alerts for hospitals when a patient is readmitted within five days, while the medical school has revamped its curriculum to include health IT.