By Jonathan Todd, PhD, MSPH – Senior Research Associate

Happy March, everyone!

My name is Jonathan Todd, and I’m an infectious disease epidemiologist at OCHIN. I’m excited to share an update about ongoing infectious disease research projects at OCHIN, and give a sneak peek into our planned future collaborations. 

We are scratching the surface in the ever-expanding field of infectious disease research. The ADVANCE Research Data Warehouse provides a powerful platform for understanding the epidemiology of infectious diseases within the safety net. Using this platform to better understand the challenges experienced by our patients provides a unique opportunity for our research team to gain more insight into infectious disease.

We are collaborating with investigators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , examining the epidemiology of tuberculosis (TB) in OCHIN patients, including both latent tuberculosis (LTBI) and active TB disease. Entitled “Leveraging Healthcare Data Assets and Partners to Improve LTBI Surveillance and Intervention,” the LTBI project aims to understand the epidemiology of the tuberculosis treatment cascade, and to better inform interventions aimed at eliminating tuberculosis in the United States. Finding and treating patients with LTBI is critical. During this initial phase of our collaboration, we are examining OCHIN data on TB screening, diagnoses, and treatment. Our analyst team, led by Amy Zlot and Teresa Schmidt, have done outstanding work to identify the relevant sources within our database. We are learning quite a lot about how TB data is captured within OCHIN’s EPIC EHR, which will aid potential enhancements to the electronic health record (EHR) for clinicians treating TB. We hope this collaboration will lead to interventions both in the EHR and within OCHIN clinics in future work.


We are also working with local leaders in infectious disease research and were excited to host Dr. Timothy Menza, Medical Director of the HIV/STD/TB Program at the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), for February’s OCHIN Grand Rounds Presentation. Dr. Menza presented his work about the current state of bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Oregon and shared his thoughts on the epidemiology of STIs in the state, as well as opportunities to address these challenges. Recent reports from the CDC indicate continued increases in new cases of sexually transmitted diseases. Over 2.3 million STI cases nationwide were reported in 2017, an increase of over 200,000 from 2016. These increases persist across disease and year; there has been an increase in the number of cases for each disease every year since 2013. If you were unable to attend this event, please email William Pinnock who leads our Grand Rounds series at pinnockw@ochin.org for a PDF copy of the presentation.

There are also other exciting new infectious disease projects currently under development. We are working with partners, including the OHA, to implement automated electronic case reporting in the OCHIN Epic EHR for chlamydia and gonorrhea cases. In a recent pilot study in Illinois, this approach was shown to dramatically increase the proportion of case reporting in comparison to standard reporting mechanisms. We are also working with investigators at Fenway Health, partners in the ADVANCE Collaborative, to better understand the characteristics of patients who might benefit from HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis therapy. This project will use innovative machine learning methods in combination with OCHIN EHR data.

All in all, it is an exciting time here at OCHIN in infectious disease research. We’d love to hear your feedback on research priorities. Contact me anytime at toddj@ochin.org, and have a great day.

Best,
Jonathan