Accelerate the Research Pipeline with Logibec NOAH and i2b2

Feb 22, 2021, 08:00 AM by Sophia Kapchinsky, PhD.

Clinical research plays a central role in medical advancements and improving patient treatments. Research is well-known to be a long and arduous process, with great rewards for those who publish. From identifying the right research hypothesis, securing funding, identifying and recruiting patient groups, collecting and analyzing data, and then publishing and promoting the research findings, each step takes time and may require unique methodology depending on the clinical specialty. 

pipline-recherche-cliniqueTo accelerate the research pipeline, some research centers resort to developing in-house IT solutions. However, most solutions fall short of research needs or quickly become obsolete because they are limited to the expertise and experience of in-house IT staff and may lack regular updates as research needs evolve.

 

Logibec NOAH equips researchers with a diverse range of features:

A sandbox

Logibec NOAH facilitates the aggregation of EHR and provides user-friendly tools to query millions of EHR. Using AND and OR boolean functions, users can search through all EHR from collaborating health organizations and research centers. They also have access to a database of 1 million synthetic-demo patient EHR that mirror the Massachusetts population's clinical properties.

Logibec NOAH acts as a sandbox to check how many individuals match specific inclusion and exclusion criteria. Most importantly, it helps identify whether there are enough patients to validate a given set of hypotheses. From testing inclusion and exclusion criteria to starting a research study, the workflow can take as little as a few minutes. Researchers can perform an unlimited number of query permutations until they find what they are looking for [4, 5].

 

A tool to speed up cohort identification

With Logibec NOAH, researchers have access to EHRs from across their own and collaborating research centers. Within a few minutes, researchers can see the number of patients they could potentially study. They also gain access to critical information such as the research centers house the data and their contact information. Identifying desired patient cohorts or, alternatively, learning that there is a lack of patients, has a significant impact on the direction of research and how to structure a granting application.

This insight becomes an immensely powerful aid to get researchers past the arduous process of identifying patients, increases the chances of receiving funding, and speeds up the research pipeline.

 

A worldwide federation of de-identified EHR

Logibec NOAH acts as a single reference point to identify patient cohorts. It can be used to search within one organization or across a federation of partners. While each research partner maintains full control and ownership of their EHR, they may elect to participate in a federation of regional or global de-identified EHR. Multiple alliances are already in place among a network of 200+ major academic health centers across five continents [6].

 

A collaboration tool

By gaining visibility on research centers that house the EHRs for specific patient cohorts, researchers can build collaborations with hospitals, centers, and/or labs [7]. If an organization chooses to share its EHR through Logibec NOAH, other labs can decide to reach out to collaborate for studies that include their patients.

 

A database tailored to any domain

Researchers can choose whether to (1) search the existing database, (2) add their data to the database but keep it private only to themselves. It allows them to make queries which include their own information, or (3) to add their data and contribute to the searchable database. This enables users to remain in full control of their own data, the cohorts they identify through their queries, and how they choose to use it.  

The EHR database can be augmented in many ways, including clinical notes and research findings. It applies to any specialty, with notable examples being Pediatrics, Genomics, Proteomics, Radiology, Neurology, Cardiology, Oncology, and Psychiatry.

 

Patient privacy and security

Ensuring patient privacy is key. The shared patient information goes through a rigorous de-identification and encryption process to remove all personal identifiers to abide by PIPEDA regulations. The de-identification and encryption process are facilitated by Logibec NOAH

Re-identification of patients can only be done by the health or research organizations providing care to the patients. All requests for patient re-identification and additional information are automatically subject to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the health organization.

 

Accessibility, governance, and speed 

All interactions with the database, such as querying patient cohorts, transforming the data, or uploading query results, are performed on a clone of the original dataset. This ensures that the original data is preserved while users make as many search iterations as they need.

To increase functionality and control, users can always view the lineage of their search queries. They can see how the results were altered with each search or each user in their lab. This also provides flexibility allowing users to return to a previous search result while knowing the lineage of how it evolved. This traceability becomes useful for internal audits. .

 

Computing power and flexibility

Logibec NOAH makes use of cloud computing. There are numerous benefits of using a secure cloud system, such as

  1. having the computing power needed to search large databases without affecting the processing speed,
  2. supporting multiple simultaneous users without affecting the processing speed,
  3. avoiding the need to purchase and install in-house servers as well as hiring IT staff to maintain them,
  4. preventing downtimes caused by in-house infrastructure, and
  5. decreasing ramp-up time when accessing the database.

 

Conclusion

With globalization, increased computing power, the introduction of cloud computing, the use of electronic health records (EHR), the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI), and open-source collaborative solutions, a number of steps in the research pipeline can be shortened from months to minutes. These technological solutions are specialty-agnostic, thus facilitating translational research, cross-disciplinary collaborations, and enabling researchers to ask more impactful research questions.

By accelerating the research pipeline and reducing computing costs, Logibec NOAH helps researchers save time, money, and energy. It facilitates their pursuit of unique research questions, helps build institutional bridges, and promotes innovation in the healthcare industry. It then results in positioning the research team as leaders in their field.

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