From our earliest days, CHR has been dedicated to collaboration with research partners across the country. By participating in research networks, we can examine questions that are hard for any single research organization to answer alone.
Research networks also help us respond to the federal government’s call to make data more accessible and to promote data sharing across different health care settings. Insurers, health plans, and academic institutions increasingly need to work together to ensure that their data systems are compatible.
Sharing large amounts of data across different systems requires taking precautions to protect patients’ privacy. We must also ensure that data sets from different institutions are aligned. We have solved these challenges by merging data using a Virtual Data Warehouse (VDW). In the VDW, database experts at each institution align their information through a standard “data dictionary” that is common to all the sites. Then, when researchers want to ask questions, they query each database in its home setting and merge the results with those found in other settings. Only the answers move, not the source data. The VDW protects privacy and data security while allowing researchers to access extremely large virtual datasets.