Getting Started Clinical Research with InterSystems FHIR to i2b2 for NIH Covid RECOVER Study

FHIR to i2b2 for NIH Covid RECOVER Study


In 2021, NIH awarded $470 million to build a national research study to look at the long-term effect of Covid-19 (  Dr. Shawn Murphy, a research director from MGH, is leading the effort to build a research data core using i2b2 data model which is known for its flexibility and user-friendly research tools.  CareEvolution solution is contracted by NIH to collect patient data from participating institutions and self-reported data.  FHIR standard is used to transmit from CareEvolution to the central i2b2 data core.

While FHIR is a very popular clinical data standard designed for sharing data efficiently, data transformation is required before sending into i2b2 data model.  Given the ontology used in i2b2 data core, the transmission needs to be flexible and fully automated.  Shawn’s team needs to have a solution that requires minimal maintenance but can be modified as needed to accommodate evolving data collection requirements.

Clinovera, a premier implementation partner of InterSystems, developed the FHIR to i2b2 data pipeline solution that can be deployed in the protected environment where CareEvolution can transmit FHIR data packages.  Once FHIR data is detected in the inbox area, the data pipeline solution automatically retrieves the FHIR data, transform to i2b2 format, and send to i2b2 repository.  FHIR data are processed in proper sequence so the logical relationships are preserved for data integrity.

In addition, IRIS data management capabilities such as performance tuning is applied to the i2b2 data core so query performance is optimized.  In a benchmarking test against Postgres, most queries running on IRIS are 1000x faster.  New IRIS bulk load tools can support very fast data import into large tables in i2b2 such as the concept dictionary table.

As of April 2023, the solution has been deployed at MGH in preparation for receiving data from enrolled patients.