Avetis / Informatics Tools for Healthcare Research
January 12, 2023

Informatics Tools for Healthcare Research

Mark Abajian

Mark Abajian is a software engineer and systems administrator with over 30 years of experience, primarily in academic research. He is recently retired from the Clinical Research Informatics team at the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Southern California, where he served as the Applications Lead for four years. Prior to that, he was with the California Institute of Technology for over 20 years, assisting researchers in Chemical Engineering, Astrophysics, Image Analysis, and Seismology. He resides in Los Angeles, but spends time in Armenia as well, where he plans to devote some time to volunteering. Mr. Abajian enjoyed teaching for two years in Yerevan in the early 1990’s, including one year at Haigazian University where he taught English and Mathematics.

Electronic Health Records (EHR) have revolutionized the healthcare industry by making patient histories easily shareable among multiple healthcare practitioners at diverse institutions. This works because EHR can be implemented using standardized codes to describe patient lab results, diagnoses, medications, procedures, demographics, etc.
Beyond the clinical and administrative uses of EHR, academic and industry researchers also seek access to patient records. They do this for two principal reasons: a) to conduct retrospective analyses of patient outcomes with respect to various medications or procedures, and b) to identify cohorts of patients with certain targeted diagnoses, demographics, etc., who may be recruited to participate in clinical trials for new medications, new procedures, etc.

In order for EHR to be searchable by researchers, specialized software tools are generally required, as the actual EHR is subject to HIPAA regulations and patient privacy laws. Today’s seminar will focus on one of those tools: “Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside,” also known as “i2b2.” This software is in daily use by medical researchers at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, and is also in daily use at around 50 other Clinical and Translational Science Award-recipient healthcare institutions across the United States. It is also being used by researchers in hundreds of other hospitals worldwide.

Venue: Video Conference via Zoom
Time: -
  • Formulate an answerable clinical/research question using PICO as a guide
  • Describe how Boolean operators function in a search strategy
  • Pair a research question with the appropriate study type
  • Search for journal articles in PubMed effectively using keywords or Medical Subject Headings
Presentation Slides: Presentation slides: Informatics Tools for Healthcare Research