The Health Information Technology Center (HITC) at the University of Illinois promotes research on using information technologies to support health and healthcare. Areas of interest for HITC include: data sciences, privacy and security, usability, and safety. These areas are overlapping in scope and include issues related to both primary and secondary use of health information.
There are great challenges to deal with the “big data” made possible by advances in networks, sensor systems, and storage systems. Information must be found efficiently and accurately in these large bodies of data, which often span multiple institutions and have diverse degrees of abstraction, quality, and standardization.
Privacy and Security
Health data is often intensely private and failure to assure its proper management leads to a failure of trust that can interfere with the relationship between individuals and care providers. Security threats to data stores can lead to large-scale compromises that create adverse publicity and fines for providers and concrete harms to patients whose privacy is violated.
Increased use of cell phones, personal health monitoring devices, and mobile healthcare devices create challenges in communications, data integrity, power management, privacy, and other areas. Requirements for these applications are often quite different from those for desktop and server systems.
Health information systems must be usable by a wide range of individuals including both highly skilled clinicians and patients who aim to take an active role in their health. To address these requirements we need techniques for evaluating usability and developing strategies to improve processes, interfaces, and equipment designs to work effectively with their human operators.
New uses of information technology have reduced threats to patient safety in some instances and introduced new types of threats in other cases. In hospitals there is a proliferation of computerized devices and increased reliance on electronic health records; outside of the hospital there is increasing use of personal health devices that range from simple fitness tools to complex implanted medical devices. The complexity of such systems means that failure is a significant risk; we need robust techniques to minimize failures and assure safety even when failures occur.