ONC announces finalists for synthetic data research

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has announced the Phase I finalists for development of innovative models using Synthea, an open-source synthetic patient generator that models the medical history of synthetic patients from publicly available sources, such as health statistics. The finalists will have until July 13, 2021 to submit their prototypes. ONC had invited proposals on enhancements to Synthea, and novel uses of synthetic data generated using Synthea. The nine finalists are working on a variety of solutions, including incorporation of social determinants of health (SDOH) data to predict diabetes progression and big data analysis of the opioid epidemic in Illinois.

AHRQ seeks public comment on clinical algorithms influencing bias

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is seeking public comment on clinical algorithms in medical practice that could have the effect of introducing bias or influencing access to care, quality of care or health outcomes for minorities or socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals. Comments can be entered directly on the AHRQ’s website up to May 4, 2021.

The AHRQ lists 11 questions inviting comments on topics such as algorithms that use race or ethnicity as a variable; use of social determinants of health (SDOH) in clinical algorithms; which clinical algorithms have evidence indicating contribution to health disparities; and what are developing standards on how to develop, validate or update standards to avoid bias.

APIs for clinical research: future promise, constraints on current utility

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released a report in March 2021 summarizing perspectives of researchers on the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) for clinical research. Currently, extracting data required for research from the electronic health record (EHR) or data warehouse, or curating data to conform to a common data model (CDM) across multiple sites, are complex and resource-intensive activities. The ONC interviewed researchers to evaluate whether standardized APIs may reduce dependence on custom data extracts and complex data curation. While increased use of standardized APIs may be useful to streamline research efforts across organizations and support multi-site trials, there are several barriers to broader use of APIs in clinical research studies at the present time.

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