Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer disproportionally affect racial and ethnic minorities. Of the 45 percent of Americans who have one or more chronic diseases, underserved populations are three to six times more likely than whites to have a chronic disease.
Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine, in collaboration with the Caridad Center, Inc., and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, have received a $500,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a project to tackle chronic health disparities through the use of electronic health records (EHR), artificial intelligence, machine learning (AI/ML) and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The project, “Developing a Precise, Localized, Community Focused, Population Health Framework in an FQHC to Tackle Chronic Disease Disparities through EHR Data,” is part of the NIH’s “Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD).” This project is made possible by NIH Other Transaction Agreement Number 1OT2OD032581.
AIM-AHEAD’s program goal is to establish mutually beneficial, coordinated and trusted partnerships to enhance participation and representation of researchers and communities currently underrepresented in the development and AI/ML models, and improve the capabilities of this emerging technology, beginning with the use of EHR and extending to other diverse data to address health disparities.
The AIM-AHEAD program consists of four cores — partnerships, research, infrastructure, and data science training—and this collaboration falls under the infrastructure core, which is headed by Nick Tsinoremas, Ph.D., vice provost for research, data and computing at the University of Miami and the founding director of its Institute for Data Science and Computing (IDSC), serving as principal investigator.
One major recurring challenge faced by organizations that want to use their own institutional EHR data for research is establishing a suitable research environment in which the patient population can be profiled and research cohorts identified. Addressing this challenge is the first requisite step to enabling community focused, EHR-based, research projects that aim to apply AI/ML methods or any other methods to these sets of data.
FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine and its affiliated health clinics, together with the Caridad Health Center – Florida’s largest free health clinic established in 1989 – and the University of Miami, are developing this pilot program as a national model on how to implement AI/ML in community health centers and federally qualified health centers to improve their AI/ML delivery and research operations.
“Little has been done to actively incorporate data derived from electronic health records of federally qualified health centers and community centers that directly serve underrepresented and disadvantaged groups burdened by health disparities,” said Janet Robishaw, Ph.D., principal investigator, chair of the Department of Biomedical Science, senior associate dean for research, and a professor of biomedical science, FAU Schmidt College of Medicine. “Although these centers serve as the primary source of medical care for communities affected by health disparities, they unfortunately lack adequate data, artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities needed to collect, collate and analyze substantial amounts of patient data.”
The project is spearheaded by Robishaw; Laura Kallus, chief executive officer of Caridad Center, Inc.; and Azizi Seixas, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine and director of the Population Health Informatics Program at IDSC.
With this grant, researchers will tackle these health disparity challenges by implementing a research tool developed by the University of Miami with funding from the NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science Award Program. The University Research Informatics Data Environment, also known as URIDE, is a web-based platform that aggregates and visualizes de-identified data from multiple clinical health systems within the organization. URIDE enables clinical research investigators and their teams to easily explore demographics, diagnoses, procedures, vitals, medications, labs, notes, allergies, comorbidities and other information.
URIDE previously received funding from the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award program. This new pilot program will increase URIDE’s utilization with a much wider expansion of the use of this cyber infrastructure platform.
“We are very excited to collaborate with FAU and Caridad to expand the URIDE platform, creating a more representative community with this cutting-edge, health informatics tool,” said Tsinoremas.
The project team will establish a research environment to support the identification of research cohorts. Using URIDE, and with the incorporation of AI/ML and IoT, they will be able to conduct remote health monitoring. Patients with cardiometabolic health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes will be monitored remotely, which will enable the Caridad Center to implement a tailored AI/ML query and analytical platform in their EHR and conduct personalized queries in their research questions to address chronic disease within their patient population.
“As a medical school of the community and for the community, we are very excited to collaborate with the Caridad Center and the University of Miami to bring together experts and resources to advance the goals of the National Institutes of Health’s AIM-AHEAD program,” said Julie Pilitsis, M.D., Ph.D., dean and vice president of medical affairs, Schmidt College of Medicine. “AI and machine learning are powerful tools that will help us to optimize health care delivery and drive health care innovation.”
About the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine:
FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine is one of approximately 156 accredited medical schools in the U.S. The college was launched in 2010, when the Florida Board of Governors made a landmark decision authorizing FAU to award the M.D. degree. After receiving approval from the Florida legislature and the governor, it became the 134th allopathic medical school in North America. With more than 70 full and part-time faculty and more than 1,300 affiliate faculty, the college matriculates 64 medical students each year and has been nationally recognized for its innovative curriculum. To further FAU’s commitment to increase much needed medical residency positions in Palm Beach County and to ensure that the region will continue to have an adequate and well-trained physician workforce, the FAU Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine Consortium for Graduate Medical Education (GME) was formed in fall 2011 with five leading hospitals in Palm Beach County. The Consortium currently has five Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited residencies including internal medicine, surgery, emergency medicine, psychiatry, and neurology. The college’s vibrant research focus areas include healthy aging, neuroscience, chronic pain management, precision medicine and machine learning. With community at the forefront, the college offers the local population a variety of evidence-based, clinical services that treat the whole person. Jointly, FAU Medicine’s Primary Care practice and the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health have been designed to provide complete health and wellness under one roof.
About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students across six campuses located along the southeast Florida coast. In recent years, the University has doubled its research expenditures and outpaced its peers in student achievement rates. Through the coexistence of access and excellence, FAU embodies an innovative model where traditional achievement gaps vanish. FAU is designated a Hispanic-serving institution, ranked as a top public university by U.S. News & World Report and a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.
About the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine:
The University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine is an innovative institution that empowers students to transform lives and serve our global community. As the No. 1 NIH-funded medical school in Florida, the Miller School is advancing cutting-edge discoveries. From our leading genetics/genomics program to our contributions in the field of cellular therapeutics, cancer care, immune therapies, and much more, the Miller School is at the forefront of advances in translational medicine and clinical care. With more than 1,700 faculty members, our research programs are designed to support interdisciplinary, team-based scientists and physicians. Nine of our programs are ranked in the top 25 nationally, and many of our researchers are prominent principal investigators in their fields.
Medical education is the heart of our school, and we are shaping future physicians who will be well-equipped to advance groundbreaking research and become transformational leaders. Our dual medical degree program is the largest in the nation, and we continue to increase our class size and offerings to meet the ever-growing demand for health care providers. The most recent graduating Miller School class earned a 96% match rate, higher than the national average, and are attending residency programs at top institutions in competitive specialties in 31 states.
By building on our strong foundations in research, education, and clinical care, we will continue to transform medicine and positively impact the health of humanity both locally and throughout the world.
About University of Miami:
The University of Miami is a private research university and academic health system with a distinct geographic capacity to connect institutions, individuals, and ideas across the hemisphere and around the world. The University’s vibrant and diverse academic community comprises 12 schools and colleges serving more than 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students in more than 180 majors and programs. Located within one of the most dynamic and multicultural cities in the world, the University is building new bridges across geographic, cultural, and intellectual borders, bringing a passion for scholarly excellence, a spirit of innovation, a respect for including and elevating diverse voices, and a commitment to tackling the challenges facing our world.