B&B Faculty Erich Huang chosen for leadership role for new Duke Forge : “Not just another center or Institute.”

Recent Updates

Jan. 12, 2018

Duke University’s Health Data Sciences Center is now ‘Duke Forge’.  To paraphrase Robert M. Califf, Vice Chancellor for Health Data Science: “Forges take raw materials or rigid structures, melt them down and forge new tools”. While we  have access to vast amount of health care data, the information is unwieldy and inflexible because of its rawness or the way it is structured. The Forge’s mission will be to meld health care data that are generated each time a patient visits a hospital, a clinic or data from digital phenotyping (such as smart phone tracking of health and fitness aps) into new, more coherent structures that can inform efforts to improve health care and research across biomedical sciences. 

The senior leadership team for the Forge is Dr. Califf, B&B  Faculty  Dr. Erich Huang, Assistant Dean for Biomedical Informatics and Department of Statistical Science Professor Amy H. Herring. 

An example Forge project led by Dr. Huang is a collaboration with Duke Connected Care (DCC) called “Deep Care Management”.  DCC is an Accountable Care Organization where groups of doctors , hospitals and other care providers give coordinated high quality care to Medicare patients.  With a multidisciplinary team that includes  Duke clinicians, informaticians, data scientists, machine learning experts and software engineers, they  have built a deep learning-enabled workflow that can now continuously predict unplanned admissions in 32 different diagnostic categories across 50,000 patients utilizing merged claims and electronic health record (EHR) data.  

Each month, new data are added and the model is rebuilt, updated and the predictions are regenerated. Data are analyzed and interpreted from prediction to intervention and will have potentially enormous implications for augmenting case management with machine learning-enabled risk stratification. The hope is that this initiative will help DCC better understand its patient population and manage its resources more effectively, leading to better outcomes for its patients. 

This is one of the many projects for which the Forge will take the lead.   It is also a great opportunity for Masters and PhD students to participate in data science research. In particular, B&B masters students currently have the opportunity to work on Forge teams. Duke Forge will leverage health data and information to improve health care delivery but also to improve patient lives and help people to make more informed decisions about their health care choices.