Metadata Repository for Population Health Research
The internship was performed at the Population Health Research Unit (PHRU) and the Health Outcomes Research Unit (HORU). The objectives were to work with the health data management group and practice health informatics knowledge in population health information managing. The author participated in three major activities: 1) Generate the online documentations for the PHRU database and assist in web development. 2) Participate in the initiative of developing a metadata repository for Population Health Research and the writing of a grant proposal. 3) Coordinate the initial planning for the Health Outcomes Data Warehouse project in Capital Health. The online documentation provides users with specific information about the health datasets at PHRU. The author had the opportunity to learn more about the population health data and research. The process of generating the online documentation required manual processing of each dataset, which was time consuming and would be difficult to maintain over time. In addition, the online documentation consists of static data files that only allow users to navigate files and variables. It is considered a temporary solution for making database information available online. The Metadata Repository project was a proposed solution to automatically produce searchable metadata for each dataset and allow other institutes to add their metadata to the repository. It will also provide a dynamic searching tool that allows users to perform their own database querying and database exploration. The Metadata Repository for Population Health database would centralize and automate the management of health information, as well as provide a new opportunity for easier human-computer communication. The author found it a valuable experience to work from a manual solution to planning an automated solution for managing health information. The Health Outcomes Data Warehouse project allowed the author to have a closer look at the Capital Health information systems. The author learned that because of different information systems and confidentiality and security policies, there are still many barriers preventing the sharing of information automatically within the hospital. A Data Warehouse is a repository that will gather all the health data from different systems in the hospital and link them together. The raw data would be pre-processed and ready for decision-making, research or other purposes. A major objective of Health Informatics is to use existing or emerging information technologies to facilitate sharing and management of health information. The author found that this internship achieved the goal of learning and applying Health Informatics knowledge in practice on centralizing health data management, increasing human-computer communication and providing high-quality information to improve population health and health outcomes research.