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Newsletter for the Population Health Informatics program | December 2021

Population Health Informatics Program | December 2021


Ashish Joshi, Phd, MBBS, MPH
Senior Associate Dean
Student and Academic Affairs

           Congratulations Master of Population Health Informatic students on completing another semester at CUNY SPH! The faculty and I are happy to have assisted you on this journey and look forward to helping you continue your academic and professional goals next semester. For those of you graduating this semester congratulations on your impressive achievement and good luck in your future endeavors.  

           As the semester comes to an end, I hope you’re all doing well in your classes, and good luck with your finals! I’m happy to have assisted the PHIIRE Club in creating the first PHIIREATHON: An Innovation to Ideation Impact Event. We want to create other events where we can address public health challenges with an informatics lens. My goal is to help foster this out-of-the-box thinking amongst you all to propose, conceptualize, and deliver small-scale evidence-based interventions to those who need it most. I look forward to hearing from you and helping you scale your ideas!

Table of Contents

  1. Save the Date
  2. Informatics News 
  3. Research Highlight
  4. Global Health Informatics Tool
  5. Student Spotlight Series 
  6. PHIIRE Club


The Benefits of Networking and Volunteering

December 15, 2021 | Webinar

ONC Lantern Workshop

December 16, 2021 | Workshop

An ONC Artificial Intelligence Showcase – Seizing the Opportunities and Managing the Risks of Use of AI in Health IT

January 14, 2022 | Event

PHI In The News

The Role of Imaging Informatics in Disaster Preparedness During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In November 2019, an outbreak caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) first identified in Wuhan, China, was declared to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization in January 2020. Subsequently, the infection spread rapidly throughout the globe, and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was recognized as a pandemic in March 2020. As of June 18, 2020, approximately 8.41 million cases of COVID have been reported in 188 countries resulting in approximately 450,000 deaths [1].

Initially, most radiologists focused on the role of imaging in diagnosing COVID-19 [2]. However, as an understanding of the disease process grew, they began to recognize that radiographic and CT findings must be evaluated together with the clinical presentation and additional diagnostic tests such as reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for viral RNA to confidently diagnose COVID-19. In parallel, most radiology practices also began to focus not only on diagnostic capability but also disaster preparedness. Read More

Public attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccines on English-language Twitter: A sentiment analysis

To identify themes and temporal trends in the sentiment of COVID-19 vaccine-related tweets and to explore variations in sentiment at world national and United States state levels. We collected English-language tweets related to COVID-19 vaccines posted between November 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021. We applied the Valence Aware Dictionary and sEntiment Reasoner tool to calculate the compound score to determine whether the sentiment mentioned in each tweet was positive (compound ≥ 0.05), neutral (-0.05 < compound < 0.05), or negative (compound ≤ -0.05). We applied the latent Dirichlet allocation analysis to extract main topics for tweets with positive and negative sentiment. Then we performed a temporal analysis to identify time trends and a geographic analysis to explore sentiment differences in tweets posted in different locations.

Out of a total of 2,678,372 COVID-19 vaccine-related tweets, tweets with positive, neutral, and negative sentiments were 42.8%, 26.9%, and 30.3%, respectively. We identified five themes for positive sentiment tweets (trial results, administration, life, information, and efficacy) and five themes for negative sentiment tweets (trial results, conspiracy, trust, effectiveness, and administration). On November 9, 2020, the sentiment score increased significantly (score = 0.234, p = 0.001), then slowly decreased to a neutral sentiment in late December and was maintained until the end of January. Read More


A pilot evaluation of Swasthya Pahal program using SMAART informatics framework to support NCD self-management

  • Empirical research acknowledges the capability of mHealth and eHealth interventions for ensuring high-quality and tailored healthcare to individuals. People living with various health conditions get access to a wide range of healthcare services through digital interventions. The aim of the study is to examine the usefulness of Swasthya Pahal, a community-based Health for all program, aimed to enhance screening and self-management of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity among police personnel.

Informatics Tool

Using Tableau to Visually Display COVID-19 Data

By: Rafaela Villacres

Tableau is a visual analytics platform transforming the way we use data to solve problems—empowering people and organizations to make the most of their data. Tableau’s foundational technology, VizQL—which visually expresses data by translating drag-and-drop actions into data queries through an intuitive interface. This includes making machine learning, statistics, natural language, and smart data prep more useful to augment human creativity in analysis. 


The coronavirus pandemic has led to a breadth of information visualization systems displaying COVID-19 cases and deaths per country in real-time to provide the necessary population health data needed to drive evidence-based decision-making. The software Tableau can be leveraged to visually display COVID-19 data allowing stakeholders, policymakers, and the public to generate their own insights from the data in an understandable way more efficiently than text. Thus, enabling them to make informed decisions regarding COVID-19 preventative measures and allocating resources.

Based on Figure 3, the countries that are seeing the greatest changes in the 7-day average of total COVID-19 cases is leading with Jordan (n=70.82), followed by Myanmar (n=60.27), Georgia (n=53.99), and Tunisia (n=48.03). The data was also clustered separately to show trends which yielded four clusters and their respective averages for the 7-day average change of total cases. Cluster 4 which contains the countries Jordan, Myanmar, Georgia, and Tunisia yielded 55.59 for the average sum of 7-day average change of total cases. Most countries on the map (n=132), such as the United States, Brazil, and Russia are seeing 2.21 for the average sum of 7-day average change of total COVID-19 cases.

Interested in submitting your own visualizations, email rafaela.villacres63@sphmail.cuny.edu.

**Visualizations generated via Tableau for EPID 634

Student Recognitions

Ideation and Innovation

Datacubed Health

Navkaran Singh participated in the first PHIIREATHON Event with his COVID-19 Vaccine Literacy App Idea. He was awarded a $500 stipend on behalf of the PHIIRE Club for his participation and efforts. By using the app provided by Datacubed Navkaran and his team were able to create COVID-19 vaccine educational modules that contained the latest resources on the COVID-19 vaccines, such as what vaccines are and how they work, the immune system, how to book appointments for vaccination, and how to combat misinformation. These modules consisted of weekly objectives that were followed with educational materials that were available in different mediums and were followed by a quiz to gauge knowledge and sentiments about the COVID-19 vaccine. The aim of this was to empower our participants to become vaccine champions that will help their community in answering questions, help book appointments for the vaccine, and become a resource for COVID-19 vaccines.  

Congratulations to Navkaran Singh!!

Student Spotlight

Navkaran Singh is currently pursuing his Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management and for his capstone, with CONVINCE he has designed vaccine literacy educational modules which are being deployed on an app-based game. Navkaran has completed medical school and practiced as a physician in India, where he would focus on community outreach, health education, and delivering the best care for his patients. Navkaran is interested in improving the quality of care for patients while also creating a better healthcare environment for providers.  While not working, Navkaran is an avid traveler, photographer and likes to cook.  

Student Blog

Food Insecurity in New York City: A Cost-of-Living Crisis

By: Erica Rowe Owen

While never welcome, the coming round of food inflation will be especially tough. As the pandemic wrought havoc on the global economy, it ushered in new concerns about hunger and malnutrition, even in the world’s wealthiest countries(1). The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the capacity of the U.S. safety net to meet the urgent needs of families with children. Even prior to COVID-19, 1.9 million New Yorkers were experiencing food insecurity, including one in five children(2). Data from the Census Bureau showed that the pandemic has only exacerbated the city’s hunger crisis, particularly for families of color.

Lower-income populations may be particularly vulnerable to less-healthy food acquisitions when they face high costs of living(3). In NYC alone, close to 46% of households with children reported difficulties paying their usual expenses such as food and housing. Additionally, some adult members of these households were impacted in that they decreased their food intake to minimize the impact on the children. Low-income Americans faced with food insecurity often engage in economic trade-offs—for example, sacrificing their food budgets to pay for major living expenditures, such as rent or medical bills. High area-level cost of living may have a substantial impact on household budgets and, therefore, forcing such economic trade-offs(3).

1.           Cadman E, Shanker D, Patton L, Wells C. Food Prices Are Soaring Faster Than Inflation and Incomes. Bloomberg Wealth [Internet]. 2021 February 28. Available from: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-01/inflation-2021-malnutrition-and-hunger-fears-rise-as-food-prices-soar-globally.

2.           Feeding New York City Families: Keeping Track of Food Insecurity in 2021. New York: CCCNewYork.org; 2021.

3.           Basu S, Wimer C, Seligman H. Moderation of the Relation of County-Level Cost of Living to Nutrition by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. American Journal of Public Health, 106(11). 2016:2064-70.

Population Health Informatics Innovation, Research and Education


The PHIIRE Club, Dr. Joshi, the faculty advisor, and Rafaela Villacres, alumni, and Co-founder of PBC Labs hosted PHIIREATHON: An Ideation to Innovation Impact Event to Address COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy taking place on Friday, November 19, 2021. The event was a success, we appreciate Navkaran Singh’s participation and engagement. He was awarded a $500 stipend for his vaccine literacy app.

His idea aligned with the PHIIRE club’s mission to empower and foster students’ creative, critical thinking, and technological skills to propose innovative digital health approaches using informatics principles to tackle the public health challenges that arise as a result of COVID-19 and beyond.


 Below you’ll find a recording of the PHIIREATHON event, where you’ll learn about all our different backgrounds and Navkaran’s innovative idea to tackle COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy amongst our communities:

Looking for Spring 2021 Candidates for PHIIRE Executive Positions

Tentative Election Date Saturday 12/18/2021 @ 11:30 am

We’re looking to fill positions for President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary for the Spring-Fall 2022 academic year. This is your opportunity to be a part of the PHIIRE executive committee, a group of passionate, driven, and committed students who have a shared interest in bringing the informatics field to the forefront starting in an academic setting. We will be hosting an election at the end of the semester to nominate individuals for cabinet positions and recruit new members. We hope to see you there!

If you have any questions, please email phiireclub@gmail.com, if you’re interested in learning about the PHIIRE Club and how you can get involved in the club’s activities.

Please Stay Tuned For Updates!

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