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Optimum’s Executive Interview Series

Welcome back to Optimum Healthcare IT’s “4 Questions with…” series, where we interview top executives in the Healthcare IT space. We search for the leaders with track records of service excellence, who are passionate about their work and make patient safety their top priority.

In this installment, we talk with Amy Andrade, AVP of Research, Meharry Medical College and Data Science Center

OHIT: In your role advising the President on Technology and Innovation, what technologies and innovations do you look for?

Amy Andrade: I look for technologies which keep to my modius of operandum – KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). As a technologist and innovator, the technology must be simple in its approach, able to disrupt the normal and be cost effective. I spend a lot of time scanning many data points each and every day, to synthesize the information and look for emerging trends in the technology sector across all different domains. Then I calculate the risk and determine the return on investment, and two most important things – find the best in the emerging area and ask a lot of questions. I then always want to know the use case(s) and how to apply the technology to be sure it is KISS, efficient and attainable. Then go with my instinct and jump into the stream.

OHIT: How has Meharry Medical College changed in the last 5 years when it comes to Healthcare IT technologies that are in place?

Amy Andrade: Meharry has changed in three significant ways over the last 5 years when it comes to Healthcare IT technologies. First, we have established the fact we can not do this alone, and it is through intentional, strategic partnerships in HIT that will allow us to leapfrog ahead quickly, efficiently and most of all strategically. Second, we made a decision in 2015 to identify the emerging technologies and those we want to engage with, look for strategic partners in those areas, develop the plan then jump into the execution of the plan. An example of this is with Cloud Computing for our Electronic Health Record application and building out a Hadoop data ecosystem with our partnership with Clearsense, LLC. Third, as we took the leap to cloud and Hadoop, we are now changing the technology we utilize in the visualization of data and other software tools we utilize in our school of dentistry for digital x-rays.

OHIT: Meharry is currently working on the development of a data science institute. What is the organization looking to accomplish by doing this?

Amy Andrade: The Data Science Institute will consist of several centers – The Data Science Center, The Innovation Center, and the Entrepreneurial/Intra-Perineurial Center. Our first phase of building out the Data Science Institute was to establish the Data Science Center (DSC). The DSC is focused on the following:

Teaching – The DSC is collaborating with Meharry’s schools of dentistry, graduate studies and research and medicine to develop a curricular “thread” that utilizes inter-professional education and small group learning. This thread provides an introduction to the concepts of big data science, precision medicine, and population health management. Learners develop the basic competencies to understand the impact of “big data” on their individual disciplines.

Research – The DSC brings together the major data sources at Meharry into a structured data ecosystem to allow aggregation, integration, and analysis. The data resources draw from more than 25 sources in the schools of medicine, dentistry and graduate studies and research. The data will be housed in a cloud storage environment that will facilitate aggregation and will provide a valuable data lake utilizing Hadoop as the infrastructure framework. We have contracted with Clearsense, a company that specializes in data management analytics, to build the data ecosystem in which all of the data and analytics will reside.

Support of clinical operations – The DSC incorporates clinical data from the outpatient faculty practices of Meharry and from Nashville General Hospital. These data cover a significant percentage of the population in the greater Nashville area and provide insights into the care and factors that contribute to health inequities. Using the cloud storage environment, the DSC will be able to add this to information from various biorepositories and genomic data to provide a robust opportunity to apply big data analytic techniques to the problem of health inequity.

Public health – The DSC has aggregated the data from the “public health exposome.” The exposome database incorporates publicly available health and environmental data at the neighborhood level. This data includes air quality metrics, crime statistics, information on access to affordable housing, violence, poverty, and availability of grocery stores, liquor stores or other retail outlets. This dataset has been used to examine the socio-environmental and social determinants of health triggers for various chronic diseases.

OHIT: Over the next 5 years, what do you anticipate Meharry will be doing with all of their data?

Amy Andrade: Over the next 5 years, in the area of clinical care delivery I anticipate that we will have developed and implemented Health Outcome Models focused in the areas of chronic diseases such as High Blood Pressure, Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes – the Meharry Health Outcome Models; in the area of research, I anticipate we will have succeeded in significant academic health science research in the areas of discovering serendipitous associations through data science techniques in data mining, allowing the data to tell its story. This will provide fresh, new insights from the data itself allowing for research questions to be asked which would have previously not been considered without the new insights; in the area of teaching I anticipate to engage with all our students across the Medical, Dental, Graduate Studies & Research schools to train minority health professional students in data science.

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