Hye-Chung Kum inducted as a Fellow of the American Medical Informatics Association

Award recognizes contributions and professional accomplishments in applying informatics skills and knowledge.
October 20, 2021

Hye-Chung Kum, PhD, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health, was recently inducted as a Fellow of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA).

AMIA recognizes Fellows for their contributions and professional accomplishments in applying informatics skills and knowledge to their practice—be that in a clinical setting, a public population health capacity, or as a clinical researcher.

“Data fuel the knowledge economy, and informatics skills and knowledge are key to extracting information from the raw data and require multiple expertise (for example, programming, data management, statistics, content expertise, and data governance) and teamwork,” Kum said.

AMIA is a community committed to the vision of a world where informatics transforms people’s care and is the main professional health informatics group in the United States. According to AMIA, over the last 35 years, the use of informatics has grown exponentially to improve health and to make better health care decisions.

Kum’s main research involves using the abundance of existing digital data, such as government administrative data and electronic health records, to support accurate evidence-based decisions for policy, management, legislation, evaluation and research.

“Population informatics has the potential to transform our society by providing insights to contribute to the greater understanding of the root causes of social and public health problems, helping predict the downstream effects of different policy options, identifying upstream opportunities for interventions, and assisting in allocating our collective resources for the greatest impact to benefit our global society,” Kum said.

Kum serves as the co-director of the Texas A&M Population Informatics Lab, which applies informatics, data science and computational methods to increasingly large digital traces available to advance public health, social science and population research. The lab is a joint effort between the School of Public Health, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Wm Michael Barnes ’64 Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering.

The Population Informatics Lab specializes in data science, knowledge discovery and datamining (KDD), data integration, visualization, decision support systems, health informatics, computational social science, data governance and privacy with a focus on collaborating with government agencies and administrative data.

Kum and Mark Lawley, PhD, who is the co-director of the Population Informatics Lab, are the co-leads on a research project titled “Effective Real-world Telemonitoring of Chronic Disease for the Underserved.” In a case study using real-world telemonitoring data, they found that telemonitoring lowered blood pressure in Medicaid clients, as has been observed in clinical trials. Furthermore, blood pressure control was positively associated with adherence.

Their research was recently selected to receive funding from the Texas A&M Division of Research’s X-Grants program to further develop a knowledge base needed to design an effective telemonitoring system. The project will receive $1 million over a three-year period.

Additionally, Kum is part of a National Institutes of Health training grant on data science that was recently funded. As part of the project, Kum will develop a two-hour webinar on information privacy/confidentiality when handling data. The webinar will be part of a series of data science webinars with a focus on biomedical informatics.

Kum has also been collaborating with Cason Schmit, JD, and Brian Larson at the Texas A&M University School of Law to successfully engage with the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) to include provisions for using data for public health in proposed comprehensive privacy legislation such as the Uniform Personal Data Protection Act (UPDPA), which is expected to be reviewed by many states for potential adoption in spring 2022.

Our results demonstrate that consumers find university and non-profit research and public health efforts the most acceptable uses of personal data, much more so than uses for business purposes,” Kum said. “And yet, the privacy laws often are more restrictive on research uses and are much more permissive on commercial use because the former is highly regulated. We have to find ways to facilitate safely using data to improve population health. The UPDPA modifications to facilitate public health use made in response to our comments are a step in the right direction.”

— Tim Schnettler

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