University of Colorado Health building a data infrastructure from scratch

University of Colorado Health is building IT systems to treat people, not diseases, according to CIO Steve Hess.

In its efforts to effectively treat individual patients using the array of data it stores, UC Health has the luxury of building from the ground up rather than trying to harness legacy systems for new purposes, Hess recently told Healthcare Informatics.

"The idea is that we set up the right infrastructure in place so we can access the right data to treat people instead of diseases," Hess said. "By focusing on that actionable data, we can treat patients by what we know about them from multiple perspectives, including genomic and other information, so we can individually link them to specific treatment protocols, medicines or non-medication therapies that will work for them."

Michael Ames, associate director of Health Data Compass at UC Health, echoed Hess' thoughts, pointing out that the system has "very strong collaboration" between its four entities. "We've leveraged that to figure out what we need to build to reach our future goals," Ames said.

UC Health is working to integrate the silos of data being collected by various departments and researchers within the organization for future uses yet to be discovered. It's an expensive proposition, but one Hess and Ames said they believe will pay off.

The system plans to spend the next 18 months building a data warehouse, and then will build technologies to tie key data back into its emergency electronic health record systems.

As part of its $100 million analytics effort, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is working to integrate clinical, genomic, proteomic, imaging and financial data that previously resided on separate systems. So far it has combined clinical and genomic information on 140 breast cancer patients. 

Meanwhile, Cincinnati Children's Hospital's Yiscah Bracha recently made the case for including analytics pros from the start in any data warehousing project, arguing that they can tell IT the kinds of data that should be baked into the system as well as where it needs flexibility.

To learn more:
- read the Healthcare Informatics article