March 29, 2016

Office of Public Health Informatics Services for Researchers

If you are a researcher in the College of Public Health and you need expert technical assistance with critical aspects of secure data capture, storage and reporting, you need look no further than the College’s own Office of Public Health Informatics.

Since the Office opened in 2012, its two Co-directors, Martha Phillips, Ph.D., MPH, MBA, and Nikiya Simpson, MBA, and staff have used their IT and analytic talents to serve the College in a variety of ways. They continue to support researchers with the creation of databases and electronic data capture forms; the capture, entry, safe and backed-up storage of data on centrally managed servers; customizing tables or geographic displays of data (maps) with GIS tools; and descriptive data analysis and reporting, to save biostatisticians’ time.

The Office currently supports the WORD study, led by Karen Yeary, Ph.D., and the Take Control hypertension intervention of the Arkansas Prevention Research Center (ARPRC), which is under the direction of Dean Jim Raczynski, Ph.D., ARPRC Director. The Office also worked with Elaine Prewitt, DrPH, on network analysis for her research on food access in Arkansas and has supported other College research projects. The Office is funded through the grants that it serves, along with funding from the Dean’s Office to support college-wide activities.

Dr. Phillips and Ms. Simpson are adept in the use of a variety of technologies, including Access, GIS (ESRI ARCGIS), and the SQL Server, and they are constantly exploring new ones. REDCap web-based data capture software is one that they recently added to their toolbox.

The Office also manages the COPH website, the Competency Tracking System, and students’ course evaluations and self-assessments. In addition, it manages the Public Health in Arkansas Communities Search (PHACS) site, which Dr. Phillips and Ms. Simpson created in 2010 to provide quality, county-level data to researchers and the general public on more than 170 indicators.

“We just want to make sure that people in the College know we are a resource for them,” Ms. Simpson said.