Our Accomplishments

Health Sciences South Carolina Launches Nation’s First Statewide Clinical Data Warehouse


A revolutionary information technology project launched by Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC) could lead to major breakthroughs in improving the health of South Carolinians and attract millions of dollars of investment to the state’s economy, including the recruitment of biomedical clinical trials and the development of next-generation pharmaceuticals and medical devices—right here to South Carolina.

HSSC’s clinical data warehouse (CDW) links and matches de-identified (anonymous) electronic patient records from South Carolina’s largest health care systems to enable physicians and researchers to follow patient conditions in real-time. It also allows biomedical researchers to conduct patient-centered outcomes research and comparative effectiveness studies across a much broader and aggregated patient population base.

This is the first system of its kind to bring together three major research universities and several large healthcare systems. Bioinformatics for the system came from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), while the University of South Carolina (USC) developed the operations software. Clemson University hosts and provides patient privacy and security for the CDW. ll participating HSSC member hospitals share their data.

The project is a reality thanks in large part to The Duke Endowment, which has made major contributions of over $32 million to HSSC to fund the CDW and other healthcare initiatives. The South Carolina General Assembly also provided critical support through the creation of the South Carolina SmartState® Program. Mary Piepenbring, vice president of The Duke Endowment, said the foundation is proud of its longstanding commitment to HSSC. “The Duke Endowment’s support of the clinical data warehouse initiative falls squarely within our mission to promote health in both Carolinas. This innovative healthcare tool has the potential to inform and improve healthcare outcomes in South Carolina and to serve as a model for information sharing.”

Earlier this year, HSSC began populating the database with historical data from Greenville Health System, tMUSC and Palmetto Health. The database currently contains more than 3.2 million medical records. Data from Spartanburg Regional Health System will be added in 2014. The CDW will eventually have data from all HSSC member health systems. This is an unprecedented achievement for South Carolina,” said HSSC President and CEO Jay Moskowitz. “While the United Health Foundation ranks South Carolina among the lowest states in overall health status, we can now say with confidence that we rank among the highest places in the world with this level of collaboration and this kind of access to knowledge that will improve health for all South Carolinians.”

Moskowitz said the CDW will be invaluable to researchers studying rare conditions that affect underrepresented populations. For example, less than one percent of the population is diagnosed with Sickle Cell disease, and using data from a single South Carolina health system yields a very small patient population from which to build a potential research patient cohort. However, with the clinical data warehouse, a researcher can triple or quadruple previous sample sizes, expanding queries to include more than three million patients across the state.

Researchers in South Carolina now have a better chance of determining the potential success of a given research project and easier ways to build patient cohorts. Moskowitz also pointed to the potential for groundbreaking research on obesity and hypertension, conditions which affect many South Carolinians.

USC President Harris Pastides also noted this benefit of the CDW. “Researchers need large pools of data to develop and test scientific theories. Until recently, they had no simple way to study broad patient populations and doing so in real-time was almost unthinkable,” Pastides said. “The CDW provides clinical researchers with an integrated learning tool where the statewide patient population can now be surveyed and tracked in real time."

Palmetto Health President and CEO Charles Beaman said the CDW is an example of a new sense of collaboration among universities and health care providers. “We are sharing data in ways we never have before, because we all realize that we share the same goals and the same mission: to serve the people of South Carolina and help them improve their lives through better health.”


Accomplishment Data

Initiative: Organizations: Theme:
  • Advancement
  • Clinicians
    Health Care Systems
    Research Organizations