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Members of the Health Sciences Group work with other expert staff at NCSA and with collaborators to develop tools for data management and analysis, collaboration and communication to meet the needs of both clinical and research communities in three broad areas:

Infectious Disease Informatics

The disease surveillance system INDICATOR, developed by the Health Sciences Group in collaboration with Carle Hospital and the Champaign Urbana Public Health District, has been providing alerts of emerging infectious disease outbreaks since 2008. Data from the Carle Patient Advisory Nurse center, the hospital's ER, and from local schools are analyzed to provide an early warning of outbreaks. Read more about the INDICATOR project at http://www.ncsa.illinois.edu/News/Stories/INDICATOR/.

The Health Sciences Group is also participating in the Integrated Malaria Management Consortium, which aims to develop an information system to support comprehensive malaria prevention and treatment.

"Right now there is no communication," explained HSG leader Ian Brooks. "There might be a group funded to provide bed nets to villagers. A different group is funded to control mosquitoes. A third group is funded to treat people with malaria. What you really want is for those groups to share each other's data and collaborate."

Clinical and Translational Research

The translational science community needs ways to bring together basic and clinical researchers, provide ways for them to share and access data, and provide tools for other core functions such as task scheduling and resource tracking.

Medical Informatics

Algorithmic medicine approaches active prescriptions as programs rather than texts. Using this insight, the Health Sciences Group collaborated with nurses, pharmacists, physicians, clinical pharmacologists, quality assurance specialists, and statisticians from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, and Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs hospital in Chicago to apply the debugging methods used in software design to prescriptions.

The team created and debugged a "Patient-Oriented Prescription for Analgesia" (POPA), a pain management protocol that was followed for adult patients at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois, over a five-year period. As the POPA protocols were introduced and consistently followed, the number of adverse drug effects steadily declined, reaching zero for the study's final six months. These results were published in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics in 2008. HSG is collaborating with Northwestern Medical School in Chicago and Carle Hospital in Champaign-Urbana to follow up this pilot study.

Through this project, HSG will develop an open-source framework for algorithms that enables scaling to arbitrary medical fields, to work with multiple electronic health record systems, and to update across time.

For more information on this project, see: http://www.ncsa.illinois.edu/News/Stories/Painmgt/.