How does the US meet the challenges posed by the broad range of medical informatics? Which approaches may be taken as a role model for Germany? These and other questions were the focus of the MIRACUM trip to the hotspots of medical informatics in New York, Nashville and Boston. Altogether 18 senior staff scientists and clinical directors from eight German MIRACUM sites took part in this journey. It was particularly interesting to see that in the US there have been national consortia for several years now, which might serve as a role model for Germany.
The first destination of the delegation was New York: they discussed current issues with the groups of Charles Sawyers (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), Jyotishman Pathak (Department of Healthcare Policy and Research, Weill Cornell Medicine) and George Hripcsak (Department of Biomedical Informatics, Columbia University Medical Center). These were issues such as Data Sharing, Pharmacogenomic Clinical Decision Support, the Observation Health Data Sciences and Informatics Project (OHDSI), the PCORNET NYC Clinical Data Research Network, the analysis of electronic patient records or the Precision Medicine Initiative.
Boston was the third destination of the MIRACUM-group´s tour. Here the TriNetX company presented their licensed software solution for a simple patient recruitment in clinical trials.
At last, the delegation met scientists of the Havard Medical School (Department of Biomedical Informatics). On this occasion the groups of Isaac Kohane, Kenneth Mandl and Paul Avillach presented, among others, their ‘Scalable Collaborative Infrastructrue for a Learning heathcare System (SCILHS)’ project as well as their i2b2/tranSMART approach on the basis of a high-capacity infrastructure within the Amazon Cloud.
The members of the MIRACUM delegation consider the results of their journey throughout positive and will surely maintain and strengthen the contact to their US colleagues.
During the workshop on “Data Warehouse Systems as a Basis for Precision Medicine”, organized by the German Centres for Health Research (DZG) and held at the World Health Summit in Berlin on 11th October 2016, Ulli Prokosch, representative of the MIRACUM consortium, gave a talk on “Reforming Medical Informatics in Germany – Basis for Precision Medicine” and hence stimulated the discussion on this subject. He recommended broadening the spectrum of research and teaching in medical informatics to cover all potential data sources (clinical data, imaging data, the various level of omics data, patient generated data, social media data, environmental data – as, for example, illustrated in the recent paper “The path from big data to precision medicine” of Huang et al.)
At the same time Prof. Prokosch stated that the spectrum of methodologies in medical informatics also needed to be extended and that the respective core competencies should be included in the curricula of this field. In 2012 the American Medical Informatics Association already illustrated this in its paper on the “definition of biomedical informatics and specification of core competencies for graduate education in the discipline”.
Ulli Prokosch also highlighted publications such as “Elenco E. Defining digital medicine, 2015.” and „Martin-Sanchez FJ and Lopez-Campos GH. The New Role of Biomedical Informatics in the Age of Digital Medicine. 2016.” and thus emphasized that precision medicine will need not only the contributions but also the collaboration of a lot of researchers in this field. Furthermore, he prompted the German Medical Informatics Researchers to adopt the term “Biomedical Informatics” and to integrate the respective researchers in their community.
Only a strong interdisciplinary cooperation like this, organized under the umbrella of biomedical informatics, will be able to master future challenges.
Prof. Prokosch presented MIRACUM and the BMBF German Medical Informatics Funding Scheme at the 4th i2b2 European Academic User Group Meeting in Pavia (15th/16th of September 2016). Please find the slides here: i2b2 Slides Pavia
He also used this workshop to learn about current international activities on data integration and precision medicine as well as to establish new international collaborations.
In order to be able to profit from the experience of similar US projects during the setup and networking phase of the project on the promotion of medical informatics (promoted by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF)), a MIRACUM delegation of 18 members will set off for a fact-finding tour to the USA from 25th to 30th of September 2016. The delegation will visit 6 US facilities in New York City, Nashville and Boston.
The National Steering Committee for the project of the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) on the promotion of medical informatics holds its first meeting on 30-August-2016 in the context of the HEC2016 conference in Munich. All in all, there will be 5 face-to-face meetings in Berlin and 3 web conferences during the next 5 months.
Please find the slides presented here: MIRACUM 1. NSG (in German)