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Resources & Capabilities

The substantial research opportunities at Geisinger are made possible by a rich array of resources and capabilities. Geisinger encompasses a number of distinct healthcare resources that provide a real-world setting for research. These include:

System-wide electronic health record

Geisinger is one of the country's "most wired" health care companies with an electronic health record (EHR) in all outpatient clinics, patient portal, and other digital means of delivering care. The EHR database contains information on more than three million patients. These records are utilized by clinicians for both in-patient and out-patient records with integrated electronic scheduling, clinical lab and radiology system. The patient portal, MyGeisinger, is used by nearly 70,000 patients and provides patients with secured access to their problem list, medications, allergies, immunizations, and test results. Community EHR (EMRLink) provides almost 700 non-Geisinger users (generally physicians who refer patients to Geisinger and their office staff) secure, real-time, HIPPA-compliant access to their patients' EHR, with appropriate authorization. Patient information from a variety of sources is routinely integrated into a common database and includes:

  • Age, gender, height, weight
  • Lifestyle (e.g., smoking, alcohol)
  • Clinical measures (e.g., BP, pulmonary function, BMD)
  • Digital imaging (MRI, CT, X-ray)
  • ICD-9 diagnoses with any lab, imaging, or prescription order
  • Clinical notes
  • A single state-of-the art laboratory unit, in place since 1993, collects and processes all lab and pathology material and has maintained a digital database since 1995

In addition to these data resources, two other initiatives are underway. First, a plan is being developed to digitize historical paper records, extending longitudinal information on patients back several decades. Second, a number of research initiatives are leading to the development of patient reported data capture using computerized questionnaires (e.g., touch screens) and use of digital pen technology to capture data on paper-based forms.

Established System-wide biobanking

Beginning in 2007, Geisinger began a biobanking initiative at the direction of the External Scientific Advisory Board in recognition of the role genomics would play in the future of medicine and Geisinger's focus on individualized medicine and care.

In 2013 MyCode™ was expanded to the MyCode™ Community Health Initiative to include exome and genome sequencing and a commitment to the return of clinically actionable research results. Sample collection occurs in primary care, specialty and pediatric clinics. In 2014 consenting and collection of samples will begin during community events. Also in 2014 online consenting via the MyGeisinger patient portal will begin.

Standardized specimen container type, transport, location tracking, and storage for 3,000+ patient encounters per day provide quality serum, RNA, and DNA specimens. An IRB-approved system is in place to allow the retrieval and storage of clinical specimens from consented participants that are scheduled to be destroyed. CLIA-approved samples are available for research and the entire system is working on CLIA and CAP certification to facilitate the return of clinical results to participants. All samples are linked by a unique code to the Geisinger EPIC electronic medical record.

For more information about the MyCode Community Health Initiative and biobanking activities at Geisinger, contact Sam Fetterolf, Project Manger at mycode@geisinger.edu or 1-855-636-0019

System-wide clinical laboratory

Directed by Conrad Schuerch, MD, the Geisinger Medical Laboratory (GML) consists of a highly standardized and integrated network of two hospital laboratories and 50 regional site laboratories. Testing in this "distributed laboratory" utilizes shared laboratory information system (LIS) test codes from standardized testing methodology across several different-sized networked instruments on a wide area network. Chemistry, immunology, and hematology instruments produce harmonized test results delivered by the LIS to the EpicCare electronic health record (EHR), no matter where the testing is performed in the Geisinger Health System. Besides delivering standardized results, very concise and retrievable longitudinal data have been archived "live" online since 1997. Thus, performing serial clinical outcome studies is greatly facilitated by accessible quality population lab data.

Stable regional population

Recent census data indicate that, with the exception of two counties, the out migration rate is 4% every 5 years. This stable population provides unique opportunities for longitudinal research. Geisinger's service region has a higher proportion of elderly, both over 70, and over 85, than the United States population. Pennsylvania possesses the third highest proportion of elderly among the 50 states, with currently 19.6% of the population being over 65, and possesses the largest population of rural elders. The primary care population of the Clinic is similar to the region's resident population except the proportion of males is lower (i.e., 41% vs. 49%), primarily due to relatively fewer young adult males, compared to females.

Geisinger Clinic

One of the largest ambulatory care programs in Pennsylvania, 41 community practice clinic sites (primary care clinics with/without multi-specialty care and out-patient surgery) across central and northeastern PA and 12 specialty clinics such as Knapper Pediatrics and Woodbine outpatient surgery centery. Includes three hospitals, Danville, South Wilkes-Barre, Wyoming Valley and a nationally recognized addiction treatment program, Marworth.

geisinger clinic map

Geisinger Health Plan

A not-for-profit health maintenance organization, Geisinger Health Plan(GHP) has approximately 215,000 enrollees in 38 counties of northeastern and central Pennsylvania - one of the nation's largest rural HMOs. GHP's provider network includes more than 1,600 primary care physicians in more than 880 sites, as well as 56 participating hospitals. Specialists and allied health providers total more than 7,300. GHP's network includes both Geisinger providers and non-Geisinger providers. Approximately half of GHP's members have their healthcare delivered outside the Geisinger system. GHP conducts yearly measures of a wide number of healthcare quality variables. This includes using the Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set® methodology, a set of quality performance measures designed to enable purchasers to reliably compare the performance of different managed care plans. GHP also participates in the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Survey.®

DataWarehousing (CDIS) and Translational Research

Real-time unfettered access todata from disparate sources, including an EHR system accelerates translational research and provides the foundation for comparative effectiveness studies. GHS has created a comprehensive enterprise-level data warehouse. The warehouse receives feeds from multiplesource systems, including our EHR, financial decision support, claims, patient satisfaction and high-use third-party reference datasets. The source data are transformed through a standard "Extract-Transform-Load" (ETL) process. Expansion to additional data source systems (e.g., niche specialty systems suchas oncology) is being accomplished in stages and will eventually encompass all high-value data sources. Clinical Decision Intelligence System (CDIS) is transforming opportunities for comparative effectiveness research. A de-identified research version of CDIS is accelerating the means by which data can be used to advance knowledge.

IT and Health Services Infrastructure

The Geisinger Center for Health Research and IT department have built a research IT environment to accelerate IT-related health services research. This resource reflects an important cultural shift at GHS (i.e.,emphasizing more collaboration between the IT department and the CHR) and facilitates inter-institutional collaborations around novel translational approaches to re-engineer how health care is delivered. The test environment ensures system level data security, while providing the flexibility needed by researchers to explore the use of novel IT solutions in health care. Secure environments have been created for server test environments that are completely isolated from the system that it will eventually be used on (the so-called "sandbox"environment). We also use a pilot testing server environment for real time testing in clinical care settings. The sandbox testing environment is completely isolated from other environments, with the exception of a connection to the shadow EHR (i.e., EpicCare). This allows testing for applications that are required to interact with the EHR, without impacting other systems. The EHR development environment is updated on a regular basis (e.g. once a month) to ensure that applications are tested on the most up-to-date version. The pilot environment is a live production environment with limited scope (e.g. one to two clinic sites). GHS IT and the Center have developed administrative procedures for contracting with software developers and for reviewing specifications of software development and implementation. This IT test environment has dramatically expanded opportunities for experimenting withnewly created software tools.

Registration opens for PA CURE Danville Course

This summer, the Genomic Medicine Institute at Geisinger Medical Center is offering a unique educational program in human and medical genetics, genomics, and careers in the field at the Henry Hood Center for Health Research and the Weis Center for Research. This one-of-a-kind experience offers the opportunity to learn from and interact with globally recognized experts at the forefront of genomics research. We would like to invite you to participate in the 2nd year of this new program. The intense two-week course will take place Monday through Friday, June 2nd to June 13th from 9:00am to 4:00pm.

No tuition will be charged for participation and lunch is provided. Limited seating available. You will be contacted ASAP to be notified of acceptance into the program. Ethnic minorities encouraged to apply. Deadline to apply: 5/30/14.

https://events.geisinger.org/eventdetails.cfm?id=1804