Health Data Research Tool

27 Sep 2013


The Global Health Data Exchange (GHDx), a catalog of global health data gathered from countries all around the world, is hosted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The GHDx is a mission-critical system that supports IHME’s important research goals:

  • Measuring global trends in health
  • Assessing the impact of policies and interventions
  • Analyzing health financing

I interned with the GHDx during my second year of graduate school. During my time there, I conducted extensive user research to understand how the GHDx could create a tool that would increase its utilization by IHME staff.

Problem Statement

IHME data analysts spent too much time looking for new and relevant data on their own, or in silos, without always checking the GHDx to see if it had what they needed. Through several interviews and a workshop, I created a mental model that showed why. The problem was that while they could sometimes find individual pieces of data, they couldn't work with it in bulk, to track the data they had gathered for all the countries in their study (often as many as 187 nations for a single project). The solution I proposed would allow them to define a search once, then track their own progress gathering data for the entire project and throughout their list of target countries.


Please read the full .pdf summary of my methods and proposed solution. I recommended that the GHDx create a project-based data-gathering tool. It should align with data analysts’ mental model (which I produced, and is included in the pdf) of a worldwide data search, and help them select and review large quantities of datasets. You can also see the Balsamiq wireframes.

  • Increases relevance
  • Creates a historical record
  • Seamlessly incorporates new data into the search