OCHIN Joins NIH Funded AI/ML Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity

Portland, OR— OCHIN, a national nonprofit learning network for health equity research and innovation, has been selected to lead the data and research component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) AIM-AHEAD program, a new artificial intelligence and machine learning consortium to advance health equity and researcher diversity.
Under the overall leadership of the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, the $50 million NIH initiative brings together experts in community engagement, artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), health equity research, data science training, and data infrastructure to close two significant gaps in the AI/ML field: a lack of diversity in its researchers and lack of diversity in data used to train AI/ML models for industry use. Left unaddressed, these gaps threaten to exacerbate bias, racism, and inequity in the health care system, widening national health disparities.

“We’re proud to support this important NIH initiative because we believe that technology can, and should, drive equitable health care innovation,” said Abby Sears, CEO of OCHIN. “AI and machine learning are powerful tools to reduce clinical burden and optimize health care delivery, but their development must include the experiences and aspirations of underrepresented communities if we hope to design a health care system that effectively serves everyone.”

OCHIN provides affordable electronic health record (EHR) and integrated clinical support services to nearly 1,000 community health care sites that deliver high-quality care to millions of underinsured and systemically underserved patients nationwide. As the consortium’s Data & Research Core, OCHIN will leverage its 21 years of expertise in health equity research and clinical quality improvement across a national network of community-based providers to advance the goals of the AIM-AHEAD program, in partnership with leading experts from diverse academic institutions across the country.

OCHIN has partnered with Morehouse School of Medicine; University of California, Irvine’s Program in Public Health; Duke Institute for Health Innovation; North Carolina Central University, and others to develop a data and research plan focused on monitoring for bias and health inequities throughout the full process of developing AI/ML applications. OCHIN will also leverage the existing partnerships, data, research, and engagement infrastructure of the ADVANCE Clinical Research Network (ADVANCE), which it leads with funding from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), to support AIM-AHEAD. ADVANCE brings to the consortium a large, standardized dataset representing over 7 million people to better reflect the nation’s diverse health care needs, including social determinants of health.

“Through the power of these partnerships, OCHIN aims to diversify the data used in building new AI/ML models to advance health disparities research and diversify the community of researchers equipped to use these advanced analytics capabilities,” said Jon Puro, M.P.A, AIM-AHEAD Data and Research Core Lead for OCHIN.

The full list of AIM-AHEAD Research and Data Core leaders includes:

  • Principal Investigator: Jon Puro, M.P.A., (OCHIN)
  • Multiple Principal Investigator: Anisha Abdul-Ali, D.N.P., M.P.H., B.S.N., R.N. (OCHIN)
  • Multiple Principal Investigator: Bernadette M. Boden-Albala, M.P.H., Dr.P.H. (University of California, Irvine’s Program in Public Health)
  • Multiple Principal Investigator: Dominic H. Mack, M.D., M.B.A. (Morehouse School of Medicine)
  • Multiple Principal Investigator: Mark Sendak, M.D., M.P.P. (Duke Institute for Health Innovation)
  • Site Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator: Deepak Kumar, Ph.D. (North Carolina Central University)


OCHIN is a driving force for health equity. A national nonprofit health IT organization with two decades of experience transforming health care delivery, OCHIN provides leading-edge technology, data analytics, research, and support services to nearly 1,000 community health care sites, reaching nearly 6 million patients. We partner, learn, innovate, and advocate to close gaps in health care that are systemic, avoidable, and unjust, so everyone has a fair opportunity to achieve their full health potential. Learn more at www.ochin.org.

ADVANCE Clinical Research Network

ADVANCE is a multicenter research network led by OCHIN in partnership with Fenway Health, Health Choice Network, and Oregon Health & Science University. As the nation’s most comprehensive set of health data from community-based health centers, ADVANCE integrates outpatient health record data and community-level data representing over 7 million people seen in 172 community-based health systems across 31 states. ADVANCE is funded through the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Learn more at www.advancecollaborative.org.


Ariel Surowidjojo