Epic & Clinical Research

From a research perspective, having information in disparate silos, whether paper files or separate EMRs, made it difficult to pull together data to look at patients globally across large numbers and long periods of time. Complex queries to identify patients who meet specific criteria were all but impossible. With Epic, all of Yale’s clinical data is in one place—in addition to scheduling and financial data—but there are also such other types of information as genomics data that are useful for research. “We need a common place to put that information so we can extract it, analyze it, and use it,” said Hsiao.

Enter Helix, Yale’s version of Epic’s Cogito data warehouse, which will allow Yale to combine the data from its dozen or so data repositories. “We don’t believe all of these separate data warehouses will position us long-term for what we need to do,” said Hsiao. “Helix is our first step to a warehouse that has all the clinical data but also allows us the ability to add outside data.”

Yale has already successfully tested a trial version of Helix, and is in the process of installing the database and populating it with clinical data from Epic. The next step will be to add outside data. One of the areas at the top of the list is the healthy volunteer database maintained by YCCI via www.yalestudies.org. This database contains demographic data but lacks health information; linking it to Epic will make it much more powerful. “Instead of sending out surveys to thousands of people to find out if they’re eligible for a study, with the right analytics, we’ll be able to query the database and immediately find a subset of eligible subjects,” said Hsiao. “I think our investigators are thirsting for a tool like this.”

In the meantime, the data contained in Epic has already proven useful to researchers. Last November, YCCI published a diabetes newsletter in concert with American Diabetes Month highlighting the diabetes and obesity studies conducted by Kevan Herold, M.D., professor of immunobiology and of medicine (endocrinology); and Silvio Inzucchi, M.D., professor of medicine (endocrinology) and director of the Yale Diabetes Center. The newsletter was sent to 22,000 patients whose data were pulled from Epic. “I was impressed at how quickly we were able to put this together and get the word out about our research,” said Inzucchi. “This capability will be tremendously helpful to clinical investigators who need to recruit patients rapidly for their trials.”