Georgia CTSA Informatics Provides Support for Health Equity Data Sandbox Initiative

Health professionals smiling for picture

“The Health Equity Data Sandbox will be a valuable tool that can help researchers advance health equity by providing access to data and tools that can be used to study health disparities and develop new interventions,” says Georgia CTSA Informatics Director Rishikesan (Rishi) Kamaleswaran, PhD, Associate Professor, Biomedical Informatics and Translational Informatics Director, Emory School of Medicine.

Ideated as a result of a touchless vital sign triage tool ineffectively capturing healthcare data on non-white patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Health Equity Data Sandbox was designed by the Health DesignED: The Acute Care Design + Innovation Center in the Emory Department of Emergency Medicine as a solution to overcome the barriers of homogenous patient data and provide intentionally diverse data sets for more equitable innovations. The Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance (Georgia CTSA) Informatics program helped provide key technical support services in developing the Health Equity Sandbox initiative, including extracting health equity-specific data from EMRs and other clinical databases, creating the database in Amazon Web Services (AWS)/Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and loading the data, setting up Twitter API access to enable searching for specific terms, and backend development consultation to properly configure the health platform dashboard and allow for outside users to access the needed data while preserving HIPPA-related information.

The Sandbox will provide a centralized and secure environment for the discovery of knowledge and low-hypothesis exploration by combining datasets that are traditionally siloed and difficult to navigate independently, such as patient encounter data, labs, claims; publicly available social determinant of health data; and mobility and IoT (internet of things) data. Insights, products, and tech-enabled services will be generated from the Health Equity Data Sandbox to further the understanding of healthcare’s greatest equity challenges and drive the development of equity-centered digital health solutions.

“The Informatics program of the Georgia CTSA has placed a key emphasis on utilizing the vast resources in clinical informatics and data science to meaningfully advance the scientific and clinical impact of our work. The Health Equity Data Sandbox is the latest example of how we can bring together exceptional clinicians, scientists, and informaticians to leverage the hidden gems that are contained in our data,” adds Dr. Kamaleswaran.

Learn more about Georgia CTSA’s Informatics Services.