While technological and communication breakthroughs have accumulated dramatically, vexing ethical and policy questions remain about how that data should be collected, stored, and used. CLEAR Health Information is an interdisciplinary center committed to addressing these questions via law, ethics, and human factors. CLEAR is a partnership of IU's Maurer School of Law, School of Medicine, School of Informatics & Computing, and the Office of the Vice President of Information Technology. The collaboration involves faculty experts from two Indiana University centers: The Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research in Bloomington, and the Indiana University Center for Bioethics in Indianapolis. Initial funding was provided by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.
In addition to the center’s core leadership, CLEAR also draws on a wide range of expertise from universities, technology companies, and policy environments. CLEAR’s research portfolio spans several key areas. From a blue-ribbon panel working to enact Institute of Medicine recommendations on health privacy rules to a study investigating how information technology can be used to improve the lives of mental health patients, CLEAR Health Information is committed to pursuing research that will facilitate treatment and research, improve health outcomes for patients, and heighten accountability.
DEVELOPMENT OF A NATIONAL CENTER FOR EXCELLENCE OF ETHICS AND HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Indiana University's CLEAR (in cooperation with the IU Center for Bioethics) and the University of Miami's Ethics Program [now Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy] have collaborated for more than a decade and developed a strong and productive partnership. Ethics and health information technology constitutes an important area of joint strength across research, policy analysis, public engagement, and education between these groups. Indeed, both groups have agreed to jointly and co-equally commit $50,000 (for a total of $100,000) to provide for strategic planning and further development of a joint National Center of Excellence for the Study of Ethics and Health Information Technology. These joint contributions will demonstrate a sincere commitment by both organizations to plan for the National Center's development, launching and sustainability — enabling it to realize a joint vision to undertake a tripartite mission of education, research and community partnerships. As part of his effort, Goodman, in conjunction with the IU Center for Bioethics Director, as needed and appropriate, will collaborate on or undertake to prepare the following deliverables:
- Due diligence research in business plan development, and development of a business model and development case.
- Overall leadership, drafting of overall strategic plan/white paper documenting the need for the National Center of Excellence, strategies for hiring, research and partnering with Indiana plan by Prof. Goodman.
- Organize and convene two meetings to engage potential domestic and international partners to demonstrate need for CLEAR and its potential impact.
May 2015 saw some administrative changes affecting CLEAR’s operations, the most significant of which was the appointment of CLEAR Managing Director Fred H. Cate as IU Vice President Research and the departure of CLEAR’s Administrative Manager. In anticipation of this, CLEAR leadership informed Lilly Endowment Inc. and received approval for a set of four steps to ensure a seamless transition of management and pathway for visioning the future which included:
Folding' CLEAR into the IU Center for Bioethics, allowing the IUCB to take over the management of the new entity, creating a more comprehensive research center that further emphasizes ethical, social and policy issues in health information technology. Our intention is to combine the resources of both centers into one, transition overall managerial directorship from Prof. Cate to Prof. Meslin, and relocate all operations to the IU Center for Bioethics suite in the HITS building in Indianapolis. Update: This administrative activity is completed.
Seeking permission of Lilly Endowment Inc. to use the remaining $400,000 “bridge fund” to assist with the transition and to help plan and launch a bolder vision the key components of which include: a comprehensive “Institute on Bioethics, Health Information, and Policy” that would draw on existing centers and programs in Indianapolis, Bloomington, and the regional campuses of the new IU Academic Health Center. This will allow us to also identify promising scholars and practitioners to begin building a world-class institute serving Indiana and the country. Update: Lilly Endowment Inc. approved this request.
By consolidating academic resources within the IUCB, the new entity intends to next partner more closely with the developing Academic Health Center model being developed between the IUSM and IU Health, and other health networks creating a formidable resource that incorporates research, education, and service functions. Update: An update memo proposing next steps has been shared by Meslin with senior leadership of IUSM and the Department of Medicine.
Partnering with the University of Miami (a world leader in ethics and informatics) to establish a National Center for Ethics and Health Information. The University of Miami has recently been funded to establish its own Institute of Bioethics and Health Policy which can now begin “bridge-building” with Indiana University to create one of the country’s most comprehensive academic partnerships devoted to these issues. Update: As described above, this process has been initiated with Dr. Kenneth Goodman, University of Miami
The transition of managerial directorship from Professor Cate to Professor Meslin, the relocation of all CLEAR operations to the IU Center for Bioethics suite in the HITS building in Indianapolis with IUCB, and the team-based administrative responsibilities shared by Business Manager Gary Brackett were undertaken smoothly.
On February 1, 2016 Professor Meslin left Indiana University to take on a new position as President/CEO of the Council of Canadian Academies, in Ottawa. Leadership by the IUCB, including the receipt of and evaluation of Dr. Goodman’s deliverables will be undertaken by the IU CB Interim Director, Peter H. Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D.