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by Dr. Joshua Vande Hey
Published on 18 January 2017

The University of Leicester and Cerner have just completed a collaborative pilot project funded by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to explore potential for integrating environmental data such as weather and air pollution data into Cerner’s population health platform. The EPHI project (Environmental Population Health Informatics) has successfully demonstrated the integration of historic spatially and temporally-resolved temperature data with synthetic COPD and RTI encounter data for the Wirral region, data which can be interrogated through a new demo dashboard in Tableau. In addition, the project has investigated environmental health applications potential for services which could in the future be offered based on the EPHI concept, particularly in respiratory health, and identified linkup with key national initiatives which could help drive forward future development.

The experience of working with Cerner on this exploratory project has been fantastic. Not only have we achieved the objectives we set out to achieve at the start of the project—to demonstrate feasibility of integration of environmental and health data in Cerner’s HealtheIntent platform, and to understand focus areas for potential future healthcare applications—but we have also developed a strong foundation for our partnership.I have been very impressed with the competence and genuine enthusiasm of all of the Cerner staff I have interacted with, both in London and in Kansas City, and have observed a core value of ensuring that Cerner’s work creates clear benefit for its clients and the populations they serve. In particular, the leadership and engagement of Dr. Flavia Rovis at Cerner has been crucial to getting this initiative off the ground. I look forward to building on this collaboration with the aim of providing improved data-driven healthcare approaches for environmentally-sensitive health conditions.

Following on from this pathfinder project, project collaborators Dr. Harjinder Sembhi of Earth Observation Science at the University of Leicester, Dr. Jonathan Tedds of RED Informatics, Ltd. and I are actively pursuing further research and innovation funding to demonstrate a fully functional use case for the EPHI concept in partnership with Cerner, and then to develop a robust methodology for integration of historic and forecast weather and air pollution data with health data on a near-real time basis to provide decision-support for care providers and patients.