258275 Use of an extensible, agile web development platform supports decision-making about grants and programs in autism research

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Leon Rozenblit , Prometheus Research, LLC, New Haven, CT
Owen McGettrick , Prometheus Research, LLC, New Haven, CT
David Voccola , Prometheus Research, LLC, New Haven, CT
Charles Tirrell , Prometheus Research, LLC, New Haven, CT
Matthew Peddle , Prometheus Research, LLC, New Haven, CT
Henry Agnew , Prometheus Research, LLC, New Haven, CT
Ben Lawlor , Prometheus Research, LLC, New Haven, CT
Naralys Sinanis , Prometheus Research, LLC, New Haven, CT
Stephen Johnson, PhD , Public Health, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY

Public health administrators are increasingly required to make decisions about scientific direction including funding of research and wellness programs. Administrators require knowledge of multiple internal and external grants and publications sources. However, access to a wide range of systems can increase costs and reduce the speed of decisions. Attempts to create dashboards to summarize relevant information usually fail. By the time the dashboard is delivered, decisions and data have changed. We produced a platform for rapidly configuring decision support dashboards that can be delivered in days or hours.


We designed a data warehouse with an extensible data model for storing a wide variety of data about scientific research, and defined lightweight methods for extracting and loading data from internal and external sources. Next, we added a robust, web-native data-access layer (HTSQL), a rapid web-application development framework (HTRAF), and, finally, a visual application builder (the HTRAF VAB). The first pass at semantic search was handled via AlchemyAPI web service. Results:

We developed the platform using an agile methodology over 10 weekly iterations. We configured the prototype in two weeks to produce a decision-support tool suite: a set of interconnected dashboards for reviewing grants and grant applications and making decisions about their status. The prototype included a total of 21 different screens covering 5 use cases for usability review. After receiving feedback, we were able to cover 5 additional use cases and deliver user training within 3 weeks. Discussion:

A well-designed generic platform can facilitate inexpensive and rapid delivery of tools to support a wide range of decision-making tasks. We expect to make the results of this project available to the research community and believe the tool can potentially aid public health administrators to make informed funding decisions about health services and programs.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Public health administration or related administration

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the session participants will be able to 1. List two benefits of using a rapid web-application development framework 2. Evaluate the utility of a decision making platform 3. Identify possible application of this decision making platform to other public health research areas.

Keywords: Public Health Administration, Information Systems

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I lead a team that designs, delivers, and supports sophisticated informatics systems for human biomedical research.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Prometheus Research, LLC Informatics Employment (includes retainer) and Stock Ownership

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.