Rush's data hub evolves to include Lollapalooza, migrants

When the Lollapalooza music festival brings more than 400,000 people to Chicago each summer, Rush University System for Health works with the city to make sure it has enough hospital beds.

That is just one way the Chicago-based health system's data platform has evolved since it was developed in 2020 to help the city respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This has been a project that has scaled from its original goals," Rush Chief Innovation Officer Anil Saldanha told Becker's. "Our vision is this data will morph into a larger hub, like an analytical platform for the city for current and future epidemics and pandemics, basically."

The database has morphed from tracking COVID cases and ventilator availability to now include wastewater surveillance, vaccine uptake, migrant population management, and the recent measles outbreak. The hub gives the city of Chicago a "real-time view of what's happening across the health systems," Mr. Saldanha said.

More than many health system chief innovation officers, Mr. Saldanha's job is deeply focused on public health. He reports to a senior vice president of community health.

For instance, the health system is concentrating on reducing the city's "death gap" — the roughly 15-year life expectancy difference between residents who neighbor Rush on Chicago's West Side and those residing near the city's Magnificent Mile — with the help of data and population health management. That includes remote monitoring of hypertension and other chronic disease patients.

Rush screens people for social determinants of health — whether in the hospital, an outpatient setting, or a community event — and uploads the data to their EHRs. Mr. Saldanha has been pushing to make those screenings tablet-based for ease of use.

"This is an intersectionality of public health and delivery systems," Mr. Saldanha said.


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