Biomedical Informatics Group Working to Manage Demand for Services

The ICTR Biomedical Informatics (BMI) component has experienced a phenomenal growth in the number and type of requests over the past 18 months. Investigators have requested assistance with many different projects, many of them needing access to clinical information in Epic Healthlink or the UW Health Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW).

Even so-called simple requests, such as feasibility counts for clinical studies, can require 20 plus days to process given the expertise needed to code requests and extract data, while simultaneously complying with Institutional Review Board and UW Health data use policies. Umberto Tachinardi, ICTR BMI Director, comments,

Umberto Tachinardi
Umberto Tachinardi, MD

We are working hard to identify and overcome bottlenecks in BMI responsiveness to investigator requests. We recently added a new analyst to the team, and will soon add another one. We are optimizing our process for prioritizing requests and directing them to appropriate staff for review and project development. Also, in collaboration with SMPH, we are hiring an Honest Broker specific for research.

An honest broker is a neutral third party, who is not part of the research team in any way. The honest broker cannot be one of the investigators or study coordinators, and cannot serve as a co-author on any publication. These individuals are responsible for reviewing and approving queries that use Protected Health Information (PHI). Tachinardi continues,

Under capacity, although frustrating to investigators, is an extremely exciting problem to have after five to six years of building shared BMI infrastructure with UW Health and SMPH. Now that demand for our services has taken off, we are dedicating ourselves to managing a sustained ramp-up in BMI service capacity. Informatics has a tremendous potential to augment translational research projects and we intend to ensure that potential becomes reality at UW.

In January, ICTR issued a memorandum to departmental chairs and administrators that outlined in detail steps BMI is taking to expand service capacity.

As part of the new prioritization method, investigators are encouraged to always initiate their requests through the BMI request form on the ICTR web site.

More information about the SMPH Honest Broker job posting.