ABSTRACT: Background/Aims: The Virtual Data Warehouse (VDW) is the HMO Research Network (HMORN) approach for facilitating multisite research while protecting the privacy of members and proprietary corporate information. A valid and sustainable VDW is critical to the success of the HMORN, and is needed for HMORN's inclusion in many of the most important public health initiatives planned for the next few years. Methods: In November 2007 the HMORN Governing Board approved the VDW 5-Year Strategic Plan, including creation of a VDW Operational Committee (VOC), reporting to the Assets Stewardship Committee (ASC) and providing coordinated oversight of the development, maintenance, and enhancement of the VDW. The seven members of the VOC are investigators and analysts representing HMORN's major consortia projects: CERT, CVRN and CRN. Results: In 2008, the VOC accomplished two major short term goals: Creation of a comprehensive data quality checking system, implemented by seven content area expert Working Groups (WGs) consisting of 23 investigators and 23 programmer\analysts. The content areas of the WGs are enrollment and demographics, pharmacy, utilization, tumor, vital signs, laboratory, and census. The WGs assessed data availability and completeness for their content area and reported findings to the VOC and ASC, including recommendations for changes and enhancements. WG reports will form the basis for ongoing VDW documentation that will be used to standardize HMORN VDW descriptions for grants and proposals; Development of a budget, staffing plan and priorities for 2009. The 2009 priorities include development of VOC standard operating procedures for creating new data content areas and changing current data areas/definitions, documenting policies for use of the VDW, promoting use of the VDW, and creation of additional WGs for death (new VDW content area), informatics, implementation, and data documentation. The documentation WG will oversee issues such as data dictionaries, data checking documentation, programming resources, a clinical concepts library, user guides, and incorporating updated VDW information in the HMORN Collaboration Toolkit. Looking forward, the VDW 5-year Strategic Plan includes streamlining IRB approval for multisite research and enhancing HMORN informatics capabilities. Conclusions: The newly created VOC has made substantial progress in helping make the HMORN VDW an even more valuable and useful resource for the network.
Clinical Medicine & Research 03/2010; 8(1):61-2.