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Delaware Health Info Network to Use Clinical Specimens for Medical Research

October 22, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN) has announced a collaboration with the Lexington, Mass.-based biospecimen collection company iSpecimen that will allow hospitals and labs in the DHIN network to repurpose remnant clinical specimens into medical research programs.

The specimens involved are samples that would otherwise be discarded once patient testing is complete, officials said in a joint announcement on the partnership. The organizations also announced Maryland-based Union Hospital as the first DHIN member to participate in the joint program.

Through this program, healthcare information from participating DHIN members is de-identified and matched to corresponding remnant specimens at these provider sites. The specimens and their data are then searchable in real-time using iSpecimen's technology. When matches are made, iSpecimen's technology instructs laboratory personnel at participating provider sites to pick and ship the specimens to iSpecimen's research customers instead of discarding them as they usually do once clinical testing is complete. Hospitals choosing to take part in the program make a critically important contribution to the acceleration of biomedical research and also benefit from reduced DHIN fees, which may be put back into hospital operations, according to officials.

Officials point out that the patient has a central role in this program. Only samples from patients who have expressly consented to participate are considered for an active research project. All samples from patients who have not provided consent are excluded and suppressed from consideration.

The value of digitizing medical data extends beyond the obvious value of supporting direct patient care," Jan Lee, M.D., CEO, DHIN, said in a statement. "With informed patient consent, digital data can also help match clinical specimens with very specific research criteria. DHIN is proud to play a role in supporting such efforts to find new breakthrough treatments and cures. We are delighted to have iSpecimen as a technology partner and to have Union Hospital as the first adopter of this innovative program."

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