Yale creates Hugo to make it easier for patients to open EHRs up to researchers

Yale New Haven Hospital

Yale School of Medicine has unveiled a platform designed to make it easier for patients to contribute to research. The platform, named Hugo, enables patients to access their electronic health records (EHRs) from multiple parts of the healthcare system and share the pooled resource with researchers.

Researchers at the School of Medicine, working in collaboration with Yale New Haven Health System, have designed the platform to address the barriers that exist between the healthcare and research sectors. As it stands, while the healthcare system has access to a repository of electronically stored information on the health of patients, it is hard for an individual to access all of their personal information, let alone share it with a researcher. Hugo is designed to facilitate this process.

The platform will automatically pull in updates from any component of a patient’s EHR to which it is connected, an approach Yale thinks will yield an up-to-date, centralized, cloud-based repository of all the data relating to an individual. With the authorization of the patient, the data can be synchronized with a research database. In doing so, Hugo will also organize the data so that it is suitable for the needs of the research team.

A Yale-led project to assess readmission and emergency department use following discharge from a hospital will provide an early testing ground for the platform. The technology appears well suited to the study. Traditionally, the fact that some patients are discharged from one hospital and readmitted to another, separate facility has made the generation of comprehensive data on readmission rates an onerous task. By connecting EHRs at multiple sites, Hugo could simplify the process.

The platform has attracted the interest of industry, too. “Hugo holds the promise to empower people with their data and will create innumerable opportunities for them to participate in programs and projects that are customized to their interests and needs--and provides opportunities to be part of communities that contribute to knowledge that will help us all,” Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) Chief Medical Officer Joanne Waldstreicher said in a statement.

While it will be some time before the impact of Hugo is known, it marks another step toward the blurring of the boundary between healthcare and research. This long-forecast trend has been tipped to ease the enrollment bottleneck by improving the process of matching patients to clinical trials and making participation in studies less burdensome for individuals.

- read the statement