Health Services Research & Development

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VINCI Objectives

VA Informatics and Computing Infrastructure (VINCI)

The VINCI Program has the following objectives:

  • The mission of VINCI is to improve the healthcare of Veterans by providing researchers access to integrated national datasets and tools for analysis in a secure, high-performance computing environment.
  • The vision of VINCI is to become VA researchers' preferred data source and data-processing environment by 2012.
  • Build a secure, high-performance computing environment for researchers to access data. Researchers will access both tools and data in a secure virtual environment or virtualized environment that will allow full utilization of hardware resources and isolation of development applications. Large datasets can be hosted, and new data can be requested and integrated. Files required to be moved from the VINCI environment to a researcher's PC (located on the VA Network outside of VINCI) will be possible through a monitored, audited, and controlled data transfer environment. This area will provide a location where VINCI can allow data to be moved for decision support while preventing the removal of sensitive information.
  • Construct integrated databases from national clinical and administrative data sets. Consolidated databases help researchers use the vast amounts of VA data available. VINCI staff includes database and systems architects working to optimize database queries by indexing commonly used terms and elements of data such as ICD and CPT codes, demographics, and, ultimately, concepts in text documents. Pre-aggregated online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes will be used to answer basic questions about data quality, availability, and viability of research hypotheses. The data in VINCI will include all of CDW data as well as critical data sources currently used independently by researchers.
  • Consolidate processes and procedures for access to data ensuring compliance with VA policies. VINCI is working with the Office of Health Information (OHI), National Data Systems (NDS), Veterans Information Resource Center (VIReC), and the VHA Privacy Office to establish standardized procedures for authorizing the use of VHA data. VINCI will build a Data Access Request Tool (DART) to facilitate application for access to data and allow the applicant to track the progress of authorizations. This tool will also allow VINCI staff to grant access to and audit the use of data.
  • Provide tools to analyze data, report results, and support informatics research. The most recent versions of commercial tools such as SAS and Stata will be available in the VINCI environment. VINCI will also provide a suite of tools for natural language processing (NLP). These tools will be developed as part of an open-source initiative to adapt tools from leading researchers and institutions.
  • Reach out to the research community. VINCI will communicate with the research community to foster understanding of what new research can be accomplished with the data and tools available. VINCI will implement a help desk to assist with data access, dataset acquisition, text data processing tools, and collaboration tools. The help desk will be comprised of both Research and OI&T staff with appropriate methods of routing and escalating issues to resolution. VINCI will serve more than 300 researchers in the VA and expand to be available to researchers in other sectors, both government and private.