Philadelphia Physicians Take Top Prize in National Health Data Challenge

PHRASE, the Population Health Risk Assessment Support Engine, has been named the winner of the “Closing the Data Divide” Virtual Challenge. Sponsored by the de Beaumont Foundation and Practical Playbook, the challenge was a nationwide search for technology-based solutions to facilitate data exchange between health care providers and public health agencies.

“In today’s rapidly evolving health care landscape, tools to bridge public health and primary care are more necessary than ever. Through “Closing the Data Divide,” we identified innovative approaches to meet this need – and are helping move these innovations into real-world practice,” said Edward L. Hunter, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation.

PHRASE is an electronic health record (EHR)-agnostic system designed to identify at-risk populations and provide clinical decision support to health care providers at the point of care. It was developed by Marc Tobias, MD, and Naveen Muthu, MD, both physicians and Clinical Informatics Fellows at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). PHRASE allows for a two-way flow of data: public health provides timely updates about evolving disease and patient risk factors through the system, while clinicians consume these recommendations in the EHR and utilize one-click reporting of disease cases back to the public health department. Among other applications, clinicians can receive up-to-date recommendations about emerging illnesses like Zika virus.

A prototype version of PHRASE is already being tested at CHOP, and the development process has engaged a wide range of partners, including collaborations with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health. “Dr. Tobias and Dr. Muthu are leading the way in this new medical subspecialty,” said Anthony Luberti, MD, Medical Director for Informatics Education in CHOP’s Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics (DBHi) and Director of the Hospital’s Clinical Informatics Fellowship Program. “PHRASE Health is an example of the kind of innovative technology solutions that can impact health outcomes for patients. We are extremely proud of their efforts.”

José Lojo, MPH, an epidemiologist at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, said, “Creating a portal where we can securely log in, define a disease, and see how many cases of that disease currently exist in the electronic health records brings the public health community closer to front line providers. Down the road, we hope to be able to extract even more specific information from those cases.”

Drs. Tobias and Muthu will receive a prize of $30,000, and PHRASE will be presented to an audience of more than 300 potential users at the Practical Playbook National Meeting.

The second-place winner, HealthStead, connects primary care and public health professionals with neighborhood level data on education, income, crime, and other factors that have an outsize impact on health outcomes. The software’s intuitive and flexible interface provides single-click risk assessments at a more granular level than city, county, or zip code – in some cases, even block by block. HealthStead was developed by Adam Perzynski, PhD (co-founder and CSO of Global Health Metrics), Eamon Johnson, PhD (co-founder and CTO of Global Health Metrics), Sarah Schick, and Tynan Smith.

The third-place winner, Healthcare Access San Antonio (HASA), builds upon an existing health information exchange in San Antonio with a reporting portal called HASAFacts. HASAFacts uses data aggregated from multiple hospitals and health systems and provides up to date information on community health outcomes and local opportunities to engage in health-promoting behaviors. HASAFacts also allows health care organizations to analyze the results of their patient treatments and assess their success in managing population health. HASAFacts is a critical component of HASA’s technical platform and receives clinical input from Vince Fonseca, MD, MPH, FACPM and Anil Mangla, MS, PhD, MPH, FRIPH. Phil Beckett, PhD provides HASA’s day-to-day management of the program.

“All three of the winning teams have provided innovative, adaptable, and clearly applicable technological solutions to the urgent need for better methods for data sharing and exchange,” said Lloyd Michener, MD, professor and chairman of the Duke Department of Community and Family Medicine and Principal Investigator for the Practical Playbook. “We are honored to have played a role in accelerating progress in this critical area for population health.”