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CHOP Physicians Win Public Health Data Challenge

May 23, 2016
by David Raths
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Population health risk assessment support engine lauded by de Beaumont Foundation, Practical Playbook

Two clinical informatics fellows at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have taken the top prize in a challenge to identify technology-based solutions to facilitate data exchange between health care providers and public health agencies.


The “Closing the Data Divide Virtual Challenge” was jointly sponsored by the de Beaumont Foundation, which seeks to transform the practice of governmental public health, and the Practical Playbook, which works to increase collaboration between public health and primary care. CHOP physicians Marc Tobias, M.D., and Naveen Muthu, M.D., were named winners for their PHRASE (Population Health Risk Assessment Support Engine) project.

PHRASE is an electronic health record (EHR)-agnostic system designed to identify at-risk populations and provide clinical decision support to providers at the point of care. PHRASE allows for a two-way flow of data: public health provides timely updates about evolving disease and patient risk factors through the system, while clinicians consume these recommendations in the EHR and utilize one-click reporting of disease cases back to the public health department.

A prototype version of PHRASE is being tested at CHOP, and the development process has engaged a wide range of partners, including collaborations with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health.

“Dr. Tobias and Dr. Muthu are leading the way in this new medical subspecialty,” said Anthony Luberti, M.D., medical director for informatics education in CHOP’s Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics and director of the hospital's Clinical Informatics Fellowship Program, in a prepared statement. “PHRASE Health is an example of the kind of innovative technology solutions that can impact health outcomes for patients. We are extremely proud of their efforts.” 

Drs. Tobias and Muthu will receive a prize of $30,000 for their first-place finish, and PHRASE will be presented to an audience of more than 300 potential users at the Practical Playbook national meeting.

The second-place winner, HealthStead, connects primary care and public health professionals with neighborhood-level data on education, income, crime, and other factors that have an outsize impact on health outcomes. The software’s intuitive and flexible interface provides single-click risk assessments at a more granular level than city, county, or zip code – in some cases, even block by block. HealthStead was developed by the co-founders of Global Health Metrics.

The third-place winner, Healthcare Access San Antonio (HASA), builds upon an existing health information exchange in San Antonio with a reporting portal called HASAFacts. HASAFacts uses data aggregated from multiple hospitals and health systems and provides up-to-date information on community health outcomes and local opportunities to engage in health-promoting behaviors. HASAFacts also allows healthcare organizations to analyze the results of their patient treatments and assess their success in managing population health.