Toolbox Strategic Focus Area 2

Develop a standardized MS data dictionary and support local harmonization efforts

Each database is situated in a different organizational setting and uses different terminologies or parameter denotations for describing their content. MSDA aims to maximize reusability of MS registries/cohort data by harmonizing structure and variables by developing and promoting the adoption of a common data model (CDM).

CDM can be defined as a mechanism by which raw data are standardized to a common structure, format and terminology independent from any particular study in order to allow combined analysis across several MS cohorts. A CDM aims to achieve both syntactic as well as semantic interoperability. Syntactic interoperability represents a common agreed upon data structure (‘grammar’), whereas semantic interoperability represents the common understanding of the syntactic interoperable data structure (‘vocabulary’). The MSDA TransForMS SwitchBox (in short: SwitchBox) is a tool to harmonize different data formats to a MS specific CDM.

MSDA has chosen to build the SwitchBox on top of the “OMOP” CDM. The OMOP CDM originates from the Observational Medical Outcome Partnership (OMOP), and is now implemented and updated by the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI) community.

We aim to develop/implement a combination of tools and services based on the local data science experience and focusing much more on empowering the data custodians. We will keep three major target audiences in mind:

  • Level 1: data custodians which have no experience with harmonization and data handling. Here, the mapping is done based on a dictionary, a detailed database profile and mock data. The MSDA will take the lead in mapping the data remotely (without accessing actual patient-level data).
  • Level 2: data custodians which have somewhat experience with harmonization and data handling. Here, the MSDA services consist mainly of providing help desk services in combination with a toolbox to make local mapping by the data custodian more user-friendly and less time-consuming.
  • Level 3: data custodians which have a lot of experience with harmonization and data handling. No MSDA actions are required in this scenario. 

We will also extend this strategic focus area by focusing more on the development and implementation of automated error detection and automated data quality enhancement procedures. 

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