Open, free popHealth at work on quality

Analyst calls it simple tool, yet highly sophisticated
By Anthony Brino
10:55 AM
Open, free popHealth at work on quality

An open source software program created with the help of the Office of the National Coordinator is now federally certified and ready to be used as a population health tool.

First developed in 2010, the program, called popHealth, imports data, then calculates, displays, and exports it as electronic clinical quality measures using Cypress, the same open source engine the ONC uses to certify eCQM functionality in EHRS.

Developed and certified in partnership with Northwestern University, popHealth “is in some ways a simple piece of software,” as ONC public health analyst John Rancourt wrote in a blog announcing its certification for meaningful use. "However, it is highly sophisticated and versatile because it is standards driven and it leverages the same quality measure engine as Cypress." 

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In addition to trying to help providers streamline clinical quality reporting, the population health dashboard is designed to show data trends from a lot of meaningful use core measures, such as preventive care screenings and follow ups.

At Northwestern Medicine, a part of the university’s academic health system, popHealth is being used for analytics as part of the organization’s enterprise data warehouse.

“We recognized early on that leveraging popHealth would not only help us measure and improve quality of care more quickly and accurately, but also provide a sustainable technical foundation for the future,” said Eric Whitley, Northwestern’s clinical analytics manager, as relayed by the ONC’s Rancourt.

Whitley argued that the standards-based popHealth offers “unparalleled interoperability for plug-and-play information exchange and analytics that lets us get back to the real job of focusing on the patient and not IT challenges.”

[See also: Premier steps up on population health.] and [IPA gets serious about population health.]

State government health programs can also use the tool to accept clinical quality data. Wyoming Medicaid, for instance, is using it for EHR incentive program attestation and is planning to use it as part of a patient-centered medical home pilot funded through a federal innovation grant.

popHealth is “totally free,” Rancourt said, and providers will soon be able to download the certified version, and the ONC is in the process of handing it off to open source advocates for further management.