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Avalere Exec to Lead Health Data Consortium

October 23, 2014
by David Raths
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Christopher Boone says he will build on earlier efforts to foster open health data ecosystem movement
Health Data Consortium's Christopher Boone

The Health Data Consortium (HDC) has named Christopher Boone, Ph.D., its new executive director, replacing Dwayne Spradlin, who had led the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization since February 2013. Before taking the position with HDC, Boone was a vice president in Avalere Health’s Evidence Translation and Implementation practice, where he focused on developing evidence generation strategies for professional medical societies, consumer advocacy groups, and life sciences companies.

In an Oct. 23 interview, Boone credited Spradlin with setting up HDC’s infrastructure and a solid platform on which to grow the open health data movement. “The challenge for me is just to build on that effort,” he said, “and to bring more awareness to the open data movement and continue to grow it and foster that community. I call myself a data hippie, and I like to equate it to the hippie movement in the 1960s, when they started a global movement toward a particular cause. That is what I am trying to do.”

HDC was founded in 2012 with the goal of “liberating” health data to ignite innovation and foster collaboration amongst health data users. It puts on the well-attended Health Datapalooza in Washington each year. The 2014 event had more than 2,000 attendees over three days.

HDC also has created an affiliate program. The regional affiliates work to promote the ideals of open data in health around the country. They host events and build local networks of groups including startups, entrepreneurs, health companies, universities, government agencies, and other innovators to create an ecosystem around using open data to improve health outcomes for individuals and communities. There are currently affiliates in nine states.

Boone said he has attended the Health Datapalooza the last several years and grew more involved as Avalere became one of HDC’s sponsor organizations. He has put on educational webinars with HDC, specifically around the notion of clinical trial data transparency, which is directly related to the open data movement. “The webinars were to bring awareness to the fact that in the U.K. they are taking steps toward making clinical trial data publicly available,” he said. “And I was trying to highlight the fact that there are governance considerations when you think about that topic.” He added that the concept is not as far along in the United States.

Boone said that besides being an advocate for making health data publicly available, HDC would be involved in the national conversation about how to achieve greater interoperability between EHR systems. “I don’t see how you can segregate the issues,” he said. “We are talking about open data. Interoperability is creating the pipeline structure to allow the data to flow through. It is totally necessary we be engaged with the discussions around interoperability.”

Before working at Avalere, Boone served as the director of Outpatient Quality and Health IT for the American Heart Association, where he was responsible for the oversight and strategic direction of outpatient quality and health IT initiatives, and the construction and oversight of the clinical data registry program The Guideline Advantage. He has also held professional positions at Cook Children’s Health Care System, Deloitte Consulting and Texas Health Resources, according to HDC.

“What I bring to this position is the knowledge of electronic health records,” he said, “and how they generate data and ways to improve the quality of that data so you can produce evidence for decision making.”

He is a member of the advisory board of the American College of Clinical Oncology’s CancerLinQ; the board of directors for the National Patient Advocate Foundation and Patient Advocate Foundation; and the Translation and Communication Committee for Academy Health. He is a former member of the Health IT Policy Committee.