Before Covid-19 struck, I was elected President of the International Academy of Health Sciences Informatics (IAHSI). The IAHSI is an international honorific society of leaders in informatics, and I look forward to assuming the Presidency in November, 2020.
Also before the pandemic, I was very busy with travel and talks:
- On Thursday, January 23, I participated in an invited meeting at the National Academy of Medicine in Washington, DC focused on the "evolution of data privacy and the implications for secondary use of health data in support of a learning health system.” My invitation likely stemmed from my informatics research focused on methods to use electronic health record (EHR) data for cohort identification for clinical studies and surveillance for undiagnosed rare diseases.
- On Monday, February 3, I gave a keynote talk at a workshop that was part of the conference, Web Search and Data Mining, in Houston, TX. The workshop was entitled, Health Search and Data Mining, and the title of my talk was, Applying Information Retrieval to the Electronic Health Record for Cohort Discovery and Rare Disease Detection.
- On Thursday, February 13, I gave an invited talk in the UCLA Distinguished Lecture Series for Biomedical Data Science, also on my research area of using EHR data for cohort identification and surveillance for undiagnosed rare diseases.
- On Thursday, March 5, I spoke at Grand Rounds for the Department of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Utah on the topic of competencies in clinical informatics for medical students. They were interested in hearing about the work that we pioneered at OHSU in clinical informatics for the MD curriculum.
Shortly after these talks, the Covid-19 pandemic emerged, and my travel came to an abrupt halt while my teaching and research activities accelerated. Due to the need for medical students displaced from clinical sites to have virtual learning activities, I gave several offerings of my introductory informatics course to both OHSU students (3 offerings to a total of 44 students) and non-OHSU students (8 offerings to a total of 178 students). Some educators and others also made use of the my What is Informatics? Web resource, which was featured both in an article as well as a list of resources for medical educators by the American Medical Association (AMA).
Another educational activity of note was OHSU’s hosting of the Informatics Training Conference for those holding biomedical informatics and data science training grants from the National Library of Medicine. The conference was held for the first time ever in a virtual format.
My research activities during this time mostly focused on the TREC-COVID information retrieval challenge, although I was also finishing up some papers (forthcoming soon!) and writing grant proposals for future research activities. We did publish some papers on TREC-COVID in both Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association as well as SIGIR Forum.
As always, I was busy writing both for scientific and other publications. In late 2019, I wrote an article about our informatics program for the publication of our local tech industry, Techlandia.
While the latter half of 2020 will be much prolific for publishing of book chapters and the new forthcoming fourth edition of my information retrieval textbook, I did publish in early 2020 an update of my chapter on clinical informatics in the second edition of the AMA textbook on Health Systems Science (Hersh W, Ehrenfeld J, Clinical Informatics, in Skochelak SE, Hammoud MM, Lomis KD, Borkan JM, Gonzalo JD, Lawson LE, Starr SR (eds.), Health Systems Science, 2nd Edition, 2020, 156-171).
While I hope to back off a bit over the summer, there is much in store for the rest of the year in both research and education.