Introduction: Distributed Data Networks (DDNs) offer infrastructure solutions for sharing electronic health data from across disparate data sources to support comparative effectiveness research. Data sharing mechanisms must address technical and governance concerns stemming from network security and data disclosure laws and best practices, such as HIPAA.
Methods: The Scalable Architecture for Federated Translational Inquiries Network (SAFTINet) deploys TRIAD grid technology, a common data model, detailed technical documentation, and custom software for data harmonization to facilitate data sharing in collaboration with stakeholders in the care of safety net populations. Data sharing partners host TRIAD grid nodes containing harmonized clinical data within their internal or hosted network environments. Authorized users can use a central web-based query system to request analytic data sets.
Discussion: SAFTINet DDN infrastructure achieved a number of data sharing objectives, including scalable and sustainable systems for ensuring harmonized data structures and terminologies and secure distributed queries. Initial implementation challenges were resolved through iterative discussions, development and implementation of technical documentation, governance, and technology solutions.
Keywords: Comparative Effectiveness; Data Use and Quality; De-identification; Health Information Technology; Research Networks; SAFTINet.