Learn more about the PopHR project

About PopHR research platform


The PopHR is both an advanced surveillance system and a computing research platform. The surveillance system uses artificial intelligence to organize and analyze massive amounts of data on population health determinants and outcomes. The research platform enables methodological research and implementation science to determine how computing can best be used to measure and improve the health of populations.
The goal of the PopHR project is to make population health transparent, accountable, and equitable through the use of data and computing. We want to help people see the most important factors driving population health, assess and prioritize evidence-based options for improving health in their community, and track the effect of actions taken to improve health.

What we are not

  • Why we are not trying to do everything an advanced R user can do.
  • Why we are not only a pretty data visualization tool.

Basic uses of PopHR platform

The PopHR platform is a tool that automates the retrieval and integration of heterogeneous data from multiple sources, and supports intelligent analysis and visualization of these data to create a coherent portrait of population health. Here are some examples about the type of uses this tool allows our users to do:
  • Professionals can have a coherent view of the health of populations for the province of Quebec and for Canada using different visualization options
  • Professionals can access public health evidence in a up-to-date, contextualized, and dynamic manner
  • Public health practitioners can access to the open data and interoperable methods
  • Provide decision support for public health practitioners

System Architecture

In order to achieve it's goal of presenting population level indicators based on health and non-health data, the PopHR system needed to grow into a complex system of interrelated component. Following the traditional client-server architecture, everything in the system is centered around the PopHR Server, which include two components: Data Mart and Population Health Indicator Ontology (PHIO).
The Data Mart is the place where the data PopHR relies on resides. It contains data coming from health providers, Statistics Canada, and many others. It contains two major types of data : core data and management data. Core data would refer to the tables for health and non-health data, geographical mapping and fact tables. Management data, on the other hand, consists of system metrics, usage tracking, users, and roles management.
The PHIO is maintained separately from software that operates system and it is used to organize and interpret information. PHIO contains the disease ontology (taxonomy of disease), population health ontology (demographics, health determinants, health systems), and geography mapping (Geographic units, spatial relations and geographic locations).
Diagram for PopHR Architecture
The normal use of PopHR server is through one of the provided clients, such as public and population health web client and R API client. The public and population health web client is flexible enough to configure the software for different groups of users, such as the users interested in the population health of Quebec (click here for access, users may need to register), and users interested in pan-Canada population health (click here for access).

About PopHR research team

The PopHR project is conducted in the Surveillance lab within the Clinical and Health Informatics Research Group at McGill University. The lab brings together a vibrant multidisciplinary team of over 20 investigators, public health practitioners, clinicians, research staff, students and software developers, all dedicated to conducting research and development of computational methods and software that has immediate impact on improving population health through the science and practice of biosurveillance. The Surveillance Lab is funded by several sources including the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, a Canada Research Chair, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many other sources. On many projects, we work closely with public health practitioners in Quebec and from around the world. The computerized solutions we have developed are used by public health agencies in Quebec, Canada, and internationally.
To know more about our team click here

Collaborators and partners