Using i2b2 to Bootstrap Rural Health Analytics and Learning Networks

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We demonstrate that the open-source i2b2 (Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside) data model can be used to bootstrap rural health analytics and learning networks. These networks promote communication and research initiatives by providing the infrastructure necessary for sharing data and insights across a group of healthcare and research partners. Data integration remains a crucial challenge in connecting rural healthcare sites with a common data sharing and learning network due to the lack of interoperability and standards within electronic health records. The i2b2 data model acts as a point of convergence for disparate data from multiple healthcare sites. A consistent and natural data model for healthcare data is essential for overcoming integration issues, but challenges such as those caused by weak data standardization must still be addressed. We describe our experience in the context of building the West Virginia/Kentucky Health Analytics and Learning Network, a collaborative, multi-state effort connecting rural healthcare sites.