Expanding technical capabilities for innovative research

The Health and Biomedical Research Information Technology group (HaBIC R2) led by Prof Dougie Boyle has been a part of the Department of General Practice since 2017. We are proud of our team’s many successes with some of the projects, tools and activities described below.

The team of technical and academic specialists has grown from 6 to 18 in the last three years and is the largest team of its type in academic General Practice in Australia. Involved in a number of significant collaborative projects with universities and institutes across Australia (and increasingly the world), the team are known for software and decision support tool development, research data acquisition, data linkage, international common data modelling, governance and curation models, primary care epidemiological research, trial evaluation, safety monitoring and disease surveillance.

The GRHANITE® privacy preserving data extraction tool, developed by Prof Boyle and the team has now been implemented in over a thousand GP, hospital, laboratory and specialist health services across Australia; it is a key factor in the success of Data for Decisions and the Patron dataset, NPS MedicineInsight and the ATLAS project, to name a few – providing an ethical data collection solution for health research, clinical audit and surveillance applications.

Informed by innovative thinkers at the leading edge of their fields, the team has worked with the Department of General Practice and Western Health to create Future Health Today (FHT) - a general practice quality improvement and decision support tool. The system supports sophisticated triage of at-risk patient populations and delivers real-time decision support during the consultation. The feature list of FHT is expanding fast and is gaining excellent user community feedback. We utilise Learning Health Systems methodologies in the development and implementation of FHT and the system now entering a formal trial phase.

As a support for clinical trials, we are also working on the development of TorchRecruit, an application designed to accelerate patient recruitment by identifying eligible patients in general practices across Australia, which in turn facilitates timely completion of trials and translation of findings to optimise health.

As mobile apps for consumer health evolve, the need for secure, effective and appropriate communication between apps and the health system increases. The i-CHAMPs (Connecting Health Across Multiple Platforms ) technology platform being developed by the team aims to present a single point-of-contact for app developers to provide appropriate consent and security mechanisms to allow communication directly to and from GP surgeries (for example via Future Health Today) and hospitals.

To support international research projects, and faster research translation, the team have just completed the conversion of the Patron dataset (de-identified primary care data from consenting general practices) to the international common data model ‘OMOP’. Utilising OMOP’s open source dashboards and tools we are poised to participate in international research where research models are run over datasets allowing international comparison without the original data being shared.

Prof Boyle leads the Australian Health Research Alliance, Transformational Data Collaboration (AHRA TDC). This collaboration is leading national work around data quality assessment standards, medical terminology representation and common data models. The HaBIC R2 team are at the heart of this national initiative and leading the conversion of multiple hospital electronic medical records (EMRs) to the OMOP common data model, in addition to Patron.

The HaBIC R2 team are passionate about innovative technology initiatives to support research objectives and enable the effective translation of research into impact and are able to provide services in this area more broadly – the MCRI GenV initiative and the VCCC Data Hub being examples.

To collaborate with the HaBIC R2 team please email: dboyle@unimelb.edu.au