i2b2 Open Source Software Boosts HIE, Biomedical Research

Anthony Brino | Government Health IT | November 16, 2012

The health informatics software i2b2 — Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside — was started in 2006, and has become something of a building block for several health information networks and research projects in genomics, pharmaceuticals and population health.

Developed at the Partners HealthCare System as a federally-funded biomedical computing center, the open source software is letting biomedical researchers combine genomic and molecular research with data and observations from electronic health records, and its code set is also being used to link with claims databases and health information exchanges.

More than 80 academic health centers in the U.S. have adopted i2b2, and it’s also being used in an international pharmaceutical research consortium called tranSMART. “We did not anticipate that the software would go viral,” said i2b2 co-creator Isaac Kohane, MD, a Harvard Medical School professor. While Kohane thinks not enough health systems using i2b2 have used it to measure quality (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is doing that), he thinks it’s fostered a blend of research “both for science and quality improvements.”