How an API Coordinated Data Sharing for Clinical Research – EHRIntelligence.com

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By Hannah Nelson
November 29, 2021 – The implementation of a research concierge application programming interface (API) has helped improve data sharing for clinical research across Virginia, according to a study published in JAMIA.
The integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia (iTHRIV) is a collaboration between public academic institutions—the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech—and private hospitals—Inova Health and Carilion Clinic—that aims to promote inclusive clinical research through data sharing.
The iTHRIV Commons set out to provide participants with a cross-site scalable research infrastructure for the secure sharing, storage, and analysis of data in accordance with NIH FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) principles.
The iTHRIV Research Concierge Portal is an API that serves as the front end to the iTHRIV Commons. The portal supports federated login, personalized views, and secure interactions with objects in the ITHRIV Commons federation.
Users connect to their respective high-security institutional network and access the iTHRIV Research Concierge Portal web application on their browser, which interfaces with iTHRIV Commons Landing Services installed behind the firewall at each participating institution.  
“The information sharing supported by iTHRIV Research Concierge Portal, in use by all 4 iTHRIV institutions and public users, has established a foundational translational research infrastructure that opens doors to further feature enhancements and cross-institutional data sharing,” the study authors wrote.
For instance, with additional funding, the iTHRIV Research Data Commons software could extend to meet the needs of specific research projects. In the past, iTHRIV research projects developed custom, siloed solutions.
The Commons provides a robust foundation and a set of data management tools upon which developers could build new features, such as analytics pipelines and new system integrations.
The study authors noted that shareable analytics tools will be added as the next object type in the Commons with a corresponding set of metadata and business rules.
“Developing custom tools as an extension of the iTHRIV Commons will ensure new data management tools and solutions are integrated into this cross-institution platform,” the researchers wrote. “Thus, project-specific data management innovations can result in system enhancements that will benefit all future researchers across iTHRIV as well as our community partners.”
“The expansion of the iTHRIV Research Data Commons can support any number of new and developing research domains, thereby creating an economy of scale and also supporting organic interdisciplinary interoperability and cross-pollination,” they added.
The iTHRIV Commons can be deployed in the future at any institution that supports login via the InCommon federation and that can install the landing service APIs (Elasticsearch and MinIO). Participants must also be able to do local configuration such as assigning local system admins, integrating with local storage endpoints, and making API calls to local IRB.
The IRB API calls are vendor agnostic as long as the basic information can be returned, such as active studies and active researchers on those studies. iTHRIV intends to license this product at no cost to other nonprofit clinical research institutions, the study authors said.
“iTHRIV Portal usage statistics demonstrate that diverse teams across iTHRIV institutions can now work in a single integrated environment, personalized for each user,” the researchers pointed out.
“We expect that the successful deployment of the iTHRIV Research Data Commons at partner sites will demonstrate the potential for further expansion of the Commons infrastructure to other external partners across the state as well as to other translational research institutions who wish to adopt this technology,” they said.

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