Open Source EHR Generator Delivers Healthcare Big Data with FHIR

Jennifer Bresnick | Health IT Analytics | September 8, 2017

An open source EHR generator platform leverages HL7 FHIR to deliver a unique type of big data to healthcare researchers.

Healthcare data analysts frustrated by the lack of access to large volumes of clean, trusted, and complete patient data can now take advantage of an open source EHR data generator platform called Synthea. One million synthetic patient records are currently available within the free online system, which uses HL7 FHIR to allow access to standardized datasets that mimic real electronic health records.

The wealth of easily accessible data may be a boon for the growing fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence, which require access to significant amounts of big data in order to train for clinical decision support, predictive analytics, and other patient care applications. The repository of “realistic but not real” patient records aims to help researchers avoid data integrity issues, as well as the inherent privacy and security pitfalls of using real patient information, even when deidentified, said the development team leading the project in an article published in JAMIA.

“There is an especially high risk of harm from public disclosure and identification of individuals resulting from the release or use of anonymized health records, and multiple examples of re-identification of these records have already been observed and publicized,” wrote a group of researchers from the non-profit MITRE Corporation and the HIKER Group, which includes members from University of Montana, Macquarie University in Australia, and Massey University in New Zealand...