I am based at the Department of Computer Science on the Tamaki Campus in suburban Auckland. I work closely with the School of Population Health here at Tamaki, particularly with the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI)*.
One of my key ongoing NIHI projects is Caring Does Matter (CDM), which involves analysis of General Practice electronic medical records to support more consistent cardiovascular risk management of Pacific people in the north-west Auckland area.
My office is on the 3rd floor of building 723.
*The current NIHI is a fusion of the Health Informatics & Technology group that I was deeply involved in founding - which was actually called 'NIHI' - and the group previously known as the Clinical Trials Research Unit.
Computer Science / Software Engineering. I deeply enjoy helping students with computing capability to pick up the skills to make software that is really excellent from the perspective of usability and is thoughtful, and sometimes innovative, in its human-computer interaction (HCI) design. In semester 1 of this year I'm involved in both HCI courses:
Health Informatics at The University of Auckland. Until recently I was programme director for the Postgraduate Diploma in Health Sciences in Health Informatics, which can extend to a Master of Health Sciences. There is also the option to stop with a Postgraduate Certificate in Health Sciences (Health Informatics). In the postgraduate programme I taught HLTHINFO 728 Principles of Health Informatics and HLTHINFO 730 Healthcare Decision Support Systems. Note that Honours and Postgraduate Diploma students in Computer Science and Software Engineering can get permission to take select Health Informatics postgraduate courses. Although I'm not teaching the main courses this year, I'm still available to supervise research students from either Health or Computing backgrounds (and those with mixed backgrounds are most especially welcome!). The School of Population Health also has a third year elective in Health Informatics for students in the Bachelor of Health Sciences.
From 2010 the core Health Informatics courses have been offered in fully online flexible delivery mode. This means you can start the Postgraduate Diploma in Health Sciences (Health Informatics) from overseas, and can do the entire Postgraduate Certificate in Health Sciences (Health Informatics) without ever coming to New Zealand (if you wish).
I'm proud of the fact that the Health Informatics courses are practical in orientation. The students are very diverse, and many of our them are already working in the industry (in health delivery, health IT support, health software development or the research sector). The course environment is one where the students learn from each other in addition to taking in "the syllabus" per se. This is also reinforced with a lot of guest speakers. The idea is to help the students be more effective agents in the complex enterprise of improving healthcare delivery. The courses look at the gamut of applications spanning community based care, hospital systems, public health, governance and, to an ever-increase degree [probably my favourite area], consumer health informatics. The courses also prepare students for higher studies if they want to go onto masters or PhD research in the area. See some testimonials from the graduates.
My research is focused on three (sometimes inter-related) aspects of innovative use of IT for chronic disease management:
Some of my most active research at present is in analysis of electronic prescribing (particularly for long-term adherence to blood pressure lowering medications - see pubs with done in the PhD work of Thusitha Mabotuwana); supporting health consumer empowerment, e.g. with technologies to support consumers in reading medical documents and meta-data coding to help consumers find the most relevant health Web pages. I've also done quite a lot of commissioned research for the Ministry of Health on directions in health IT and evaluation of pilot and innovative health IT deployments here in New Zealand.
I'm always interested in good students for project, dissertation and thesis work that relates to this research agenda. Probably best to contact me directly about current topics that are on-the-go. If you do wish to contact me about research study, address your email to "Prof Warren" or "Jim" - I'll delete anything to a generic "Dear Sir" - and explain to me what specific preparation you've had and just what sort of Health Informatics research you're keen to do.
Of particular interest at the moment:I'd like to start up a new PhD student around the problem of supporting health consumers to read 'medical-ese' (clinical language) documents. Actually, Mehnaz Adnan just recently completed her PhD which focused on this problem with respect to patient readability of electronic discharge summaries; it was a great PhD, but still we really just scratched the surface. This is a huge issues, because incresingly citizens in developed countries like the US, Australia and New Zealand are going to have online access to their discharge summaries, referral letters and specialist assessments - documents that are meant for communication from doctor to doctor, that use advanced vocabulary and often are rich in ambiguous acronyms. What will a patient do when they see an unfamiliar term? Well, probably type it into Google.
Can we do better than that? Yes, we can. First, we need to identify the best terms to hyperlink - those that are hard for health consumers to understand and that are most critical to understanding of the whole passage. Then we need to find resources to link to that are relevant and readable. Relevance needs to unpacked in terms of answering useful questions in a succint fashion - such as expected recovery time for a procedure, or food restrictions to adhere to when taking a particular medication. There are many freely available resources to support these efforts, including the UMLS metathesaurus, the Consumer Health Vocabulary and high quality consumer portals such as MedlinePlus and the Mayo Clinic.
I'm particularly looking for a PhD student who has experience in NLP - ideally who has done a masters thesis in this area. I'm interested in both 'semantic space' modeling (taking a statistical approach to word frequency and co-occurrence) as well as more structural approaches where we parse the web page content, probably starting with a fraemwork such as GATE. Please contact me if you think you have something to offer.
A further related area that could form a good basis for a PhD is in how health consumers use the Chinese language web. I'd be interested to work with a student fluent in written Chinese and with a good background in programming and mathematical techniques (e.g. machine learning to build semantic space models) to investigate how we can classify Chinese language health-related web pages on relevant dimensions, such as the extent to which the page recommends Western medical therapies for a given condition. Some knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) would also be helpful, although I'm envisioning principally a Computer Science approach to the problem (a Master of Public Health dissertation could complement the work with a focus on the information seeking behaviour of people reading Chinese language web pages, as compared to the computational techniques to classify them).
I'm also interested to follow on from the work of Thusitha Mabotuwana (see above) and further investigate tools and computational methods to present and critique the management of long-term conditions, particularly hypertension and diabetes. This could be at the level of an honours dissertation or masters thesis with a focus primarily on visualisation tools that integrate with the electronic medical record (EMR) systems of New Zealand physicians. Or, at the PhD level, we'd want to further examine the theoretical framework, such as integrating the display of data (lab test results, prescriptions, etc.) with predictive modelling outcomes, such as risk of potentially preventable hospitalisation.
Some of my current PhD students:
Congratulations to Dr Priyesh Tiwari on a great oral defence of his PhD thesis late last year!
These are some of the PhD students who have graduated with me since I've moved to Auckland
Some of my past PhD students:
Australasian Workshop on Health Informatics and Knowledge Management (HIKM) at Australasian Computer Science Week (ACSW). I have co-Chaired this workshop on a couple of ocassions, and now it's coming here to Auckland in January 2014 (and I'm the co-Chair again)! This is a great event because on the one hand it's a small workshop to share experiences of innovative computing solutions as applied to healthcare, and on the other hand it's a diverse computing event across the spectrum of Computer Science in Australia and New Zealand with a host of plenary speakers. Hope to see you here in Auckland! Paper submission due Monday 12 August 2013.
Health Informatics New Zealand (HINZ). I was Chair of HINZ for 2008-2010. I was Scientific Program Committee Chair for the HINZ Conference and Exhibition 2006, 2007 and 2008. Consider submitting a paper to the HINZ 2013 Conference or to the HINZ journal, Healthcare and Informatics Review Online. The conference is an amazingly large event given the size of New Zealand (we get over 400 attendees and around 50 exhibitors) - it's the place to find out what's happening in health IT in New Zealand and gets some great keynote speakers from abroad. Also note that HINZ has study awards to support students and travel awards to support professionals.
Australian College for Health Informatics (AHCI). I'm a Foundation Fellow of, and was the Membership Chair from 2005-2010 for, ACHI - Australia's peak professional body for health informatics. ACHI has widened its scope to include New Zealand (this was approved in late 2009 - so all you Kiwi Health Informatics Heroes should think about applying for Member or Fellow status in ACHI!)
Health Informatics at the University of Western Sydney (UWS). As a key part of my sabbatical last year, I made three visits to my colleagues there, and actually hold an Adjunct Professor appointment with them extending through this year. Through UWS, I worked with the Sax Institute in Sydney and have been using their impressive 45 and Up Study data set to examine factors predictive of long-term medication adherence.
Vascular Informatics and Epidemiology on the Web (VIEW). I'm one of the team of investigators in VIEW, an HRC-funded research programme led by Prof Rod Jackson. VIEW aims to create a comprehensive map of cardiovascular (or, somewhat more broadly arteriosclerotic) risk management for all of New Zealand. It has a GIS mapping component, and intervention components that apply the PREDICT clinical decision support tool (see publications) to general practice and hospital settings. I'm particularly involved in the application of data mining techniques on the VIEW collection to improve the identification individuals with a high risk of potentially-preventable hospitalisation, as well as questions of how to formulate the data schema for maximum ethical public-good reuse of the data.
I took up the Chair in Health Informatics at the University of Auckland in November 2005. I made the move here because the environment provides the opportunity to really make a difference - there are so many advantages here with a world class medical school, excellent computer science department, active local health IT industry and a proactive Ministry of Health! The School of Population Health here at the Tamaki Campus provides a particularly stimulating and helpful setting combining General Practice, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the Clinical Trials Research Unit, Health Systems, Maori and Pacific Health, and Social and Community Health, as well as onsite clinics.
I worked for the University of South Australia from 1993 to 2005, where I was involved in the formation of their Advanced Computing Research Centre, of which I was Director for a couple years.
I did my Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and PhD in Information Systems at the University of Maryland's UMBC campus. I was awarded my PhD in mid 1992 with a dissertation (which they'd call it a 'thesis' in this part of the world) in Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE) / Simulation Systems... basically I was looking at interactive decision support technology. I started working with health IT as software development consulting work before completing my PhD, but then leapt into it as a research topic pretty much the day I graduated. Other than a few computer simulation projects that directly related to my thesis, and ocassional flirtation with online learning research and pure human-computer interaction, I've consolidated on innovative methods for health information systems as my sole research interest. Upon involvement with SA HealthPlus - a large trial of Coordinated Care in 1997-1999 - I became increasingly focused on chronic condition management (CCM). "IT for chronic condition management" is a pretty good brief description of my interests for this millenium. (Maybe next millenium I'll work on something else!)