Consolidating what has changed in new popHealth repositories (ONC to OSEHRA)

by Nadeem Nazeer

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popHealth is an open source tool that automates population health reporting. popHealth integrates with a healthcare provider’s electronic health record (EHR) system to produce clinical quality measures (CQM) on the provider’s patient population. (1)

The popHealth project was initially funded by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), under the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and developed by the MITRE Corporation. In September 2014 popHealth was transitioned to the OSEHRA Open Source Community for maintenance and further development. (1)

popHealth project has underlying  three sub projects:

  1. popHealth – (web application/front end)
  2. Health data standards – (library for HITSP C32, QRDA Category I, QRDA Category III and related templates and models)
  3. Quality measure engine – (library to calculate clinical quality measures)

In this blog I will go through what major changes these repositories have went through technically, functionally and structurally.

1. popHealth – (web application/front end): This has gone through some real major revamping and overhauling(on some part). popHealth (OSEHRA) now uses thoraxjs framework to handle and render all its front end stuff. Thoraxjs in turn is build upon handlebarsjs and backbonejs so one can’t do away with them one needs to have some familiarity with them. Former popHealth from ONC it had Coffeescript as its only major javascript library only to make javascript used more cleaner, readable and being good choice alongside Ruby because Ruby and Coffeescript have many syntactical similarities.

Codebase has been updated with all new latest ruby gems including updated Ruby on Rails and all other related gems.

popHealth(ONC) structurally is MVC app as it relied mainly on MVC pattern from Ruby on Rails and alongside templates used Coffeescript for ajax related stuff just to have cleaner readable javascript as mentioned above but on the other hand popHealth (OSEHRA) structurally is single-page application(SPA). SPAs are web applications that load into the browser and then react to data changes on the client side without requiring complete page refreshes from the server(2) achieved by thoraxjs.

Moreover the new popHealth (OSEHRA) allows RESTful way of producing and consuming resources (i.e: patients, measures, users, providers).

And lastly there are some obvious, needed changes in popHealth (OSEHRA) for latest measure bundle from NLM.

2. Health data standards: This library in addition to various gem upgrades has template, model changes for latest bundle. But PQRS changes not yet there, you can consult documents mentioned in resource section below to plumb them, one tricky part is Source of payment(SOP) section.

3. Quality measure engine: This library too in addition to various gem upgrades has some revamped mapreduce execution, building logic to process clinical quality measures with new definitions of map function plus some new job submission logic.

That was briefly what you may need to consider or fix to get started with popHealth, but stay tuned more coming on popHealth, EHR and more from setups to fixes, plus how to’s related to cypress.

for any queries shoot me an email at





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