PopMedNet uses distributed networks to analyze data from multiple organizations in order to aggregate information for secondary use (use other than direct patient care or administration) such as disease surveillance, comparative effectiveness, and medical product safety. In one example, the FDA identified final specifications for a query to monitor the cardiac outcomes of a particular drug. Using PopMedNet, the specs were distributed to 17 data partners with a combined 99 million individual users. Within an incredible turnaround time of two days a report was delivered outlining statistics about new users (including distributions by age, sex, year, and health plan), first treatment exposure duration, and cardiac outcome diagnoses during treatment. Platt and Brown also emphasized the importance of governance among participants in a distributed network in order to perform successful queries. PopMedNet’s flexibility allows for each network of participants to create, administer and govern their own networks. However, this puts the responsibility of governance on the individual networks to determine the data standards and best practices for their needs. Therefore, the success of PopMedNet relies heavily on its support for the governance principles of the participating organizations. Rich Platt and Jeff Brown of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Population Medicine present.
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