The MDPHnet Project was the marriage of two software systems created by Harvard Medical School’s Department of Population Medicine (DPM). The first system, Electronic Support for Public Health System (ESP), is a disease surveillance software application that can extract and analyze data from electronic health record system for events of public health importance. The second, PopMedNet, is a software application than enables controlled, secure, distributed analyses of health data owned by different organizations and stored in different locations.
Marrying these two technologies makes it possible for hospitals and clinics to give the health department controlled access to their electronic health record data to study specific health indicators in their patient population. It also makes it possible for health departments to easily query the electronic health record systems of multiple providers at once to get a population level view of health indicators.
A key common feature of ESP, PopMedNet, and hence MDPHnet, is that hospitals and clinics retain full control over their data at all times: ESP runs behind the host practice’s firewall and PopMedNet only permits external users to run analyses and/or retrieve data that have been pre-approved by the hospital or clinic.