March 2018 JAMIA Journal Club Webinar

March 8, 2018
Free for AMIA members and students of Academic Forum member institutions; Others: $50
Jason Walonoski

Synthea: An approach, method, and software mechanism for generating synthetic patients and the synthetic electronic health care record

Lead author Jason Walonoski will discuss this month's JAMIA Journal Club selection:

Walonoski J, Kramer M, Nichols J, et al. Synthea: An approach, method, and software mechanism for generating synthetic patients and the synthetic electronic health care record. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2017 Aug 30. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocx079. [Epub ahead of print] 


Jason Walonoski
The MITRE Corporation
Bedford, MA

Jason Walonoski is a Principal Software Engineer and Associate Department Head at The MITRE Corporation, which operates Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC). Jason has a background in Computer Science and Machine Learning, which he has applied to finance, meteorology, defense, and healthcare. He is the Principal Investigator of the Synthea patient simulation and is currently focused on the modeling and simulation of health policy.


  • 40-minute discussion between the authors and the JAMIA Student Editorial Board moderators including salient features of the published study and its potential impact on practice.
  • 20-minute discussion of questions submitted by listeners via the webinar tools.


  • Follow @AMIAinformatics and #JAMIAJC for Journal Club information.
  • Participants also receive short feedback surveys to evaluate the JAMIA JC webinar.


JAMIA Journal Club managers are JAMIA Student Editorial Board members:

Lucy Lu Wang, PhD Candidate, Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 

Thomas Reese, PharmD, Health Science Center, University of Utah School of Medicine, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Salt Lake City, UT


The PubMed citation for the paper under discussion is:

Walonoski J, Kramer M, Nichols J, et al. Synthea: An approach, method, and software mechanism for generating synthetic patients and the synthetic electronic health care record. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2017 Aug 30. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocx079. 

Students who are not AMIA members, but whose academic institutions are members of the Academic Forum, are eligible for a complimentary JAMIA Journal Club registration. Please contact Susanne Arnold at for the discount code. In the email, please include: full name, Academic Department, and the primary Academic Forum representative of that Academic Department. Note that AMIA Student memberships are $50, which allow access to JAMIA, all JAMIA Journal Clubs, and other webinars of interest to the biomedical informatics community. 

Statement of Purpose

There is a lack of Electronic Health Record (EHR) data that is freely and broadly available for researchers, academia, and industry for secondary use: e.g. explore, analyze, study, develop, etc. Existing data sets are limited by PII/PHI/HIPAA restrictions, or have been Deidentified (which has been shown to be reversible), and in either case usually have high costs and restrictive Data Use Agreements.

This study describes the creation of an open-source research project with the goal of simulating “realistic but not real” synthetic patient data, including the progression and treatment of diseases, that exports complete longitudinal data that are freely available and suitable for a wide variety of secondary uses (clearly, with the exception of clinical discovery).

These data have been used by academics (eg, health informatics courses), industry (eg, standards organizations such as HL7 and communities such as OSEHRA), and others. Further collaborations may make these data increasingly useful to a variety of users.

Target Audience

The target audience for this activity is professionals and students interested in biomedical and health informatics.

Learning Objectives

After this live activity, the participant should be better able to:

  • Utilize synthetic patient data for research or projects where “realistic but not real” data are sufficient for study objectives.
  • Appreciate the benefits of synthetic data and how they may be used for non-clinical secondary use.


Jason Walonoski
The MITRE Corporation
Bedford, MA

Accreditation Statement

The American Medical Informatics Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation Statement

The American Medical Informatics Association designates this live activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. 

Criteria for Successful Completion

Completion of this live activity is demonstrated by:

  • Viewing the live webinar
  • Optional submission of questions via webinar feature; option to follow @AMIAinformatics and tweet via #JAMIAJC
  • Completion of the evaluation survey emailed at the webinar's conclusion, and 
  • Verification of attendance through the participant's electronic report through the individual login to AMIA Central at 

The physician participant will be able to generate a CME certificate through the AMIA automated system. 
For a certificate of completion, contact

Commercial Support

No commercial support was received for this activity.

Disclosure Policy

As a provider accredited by the ACCME, AMIA requires that everyone who is in a position to control the content of an educational activity disclose all relevant financial relationships with any commercial interest for 12 months prior to the educational activity.

The ACCME considers relationships of the person involved in the CME activity to include financial relationships of a spouse or partner.

Faculty and planners who refuse to disclose relevant financial relationships will be disqualified from participating in the CME activity. For an individual with no relevant financial relationship(s), the participants must be informed that no conflicts of interest or financial relationship(s) exist.

AMIA uses a number of methods to resolve potential conflicts of interest, including: limiting content of the presentation to that which has been reviewed by one or more peer reviewers; ensuring that all scientific research referred to conforms to generally accepted standards of experimental design, data collection, and analysis; undertaking review of the educational activity by a content reviewer to evaluate for potential bias, balance in presentation, evidence-based content or other indicators of integrity, and absence of bias; monitoring the educational activity to evaluate for commercial bias in the presentation; and/or reviewing participant feedback to evaluate for commercial bias in the activity.

Disclosures for this Activity

These faculty, planners, and staff who are in a position to control the content of this activity disclose that they and their life partners have no relevant financial relationships with commercial interests: 

JAMIA Journal Club Faculty: Jason Walonoski
JAMIA Journal Club planners: Lucy Lu Wang, Thomas Reese
AMIA staff: Susanne Arnold, Pesha Rubinstein

The following provide their disclosures of relevant financial relationships with commercial interests that have occurred within the previous 12 months:

JAMIA Student Editorial Board Advisor Michael Chiang:

 Grants/Research Support: NIH, NSF
Consultant: Novartis; Clarity Medical Systems (unpaid member of Scientific Advisory Board)

Instructions for Claiming CME/CE Credit

CME site (MyAMIA) works best with IE 8 or above version, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.

  • Login to your account at; in upper right hand corner, click on AMIA Central
  • Go to “My Events" under Membership/Activities
  • Click “Apply for Credits" for this webinar
  • Follow the instructions on the Credit Registration page. Be sure both drop-down menus say “physician”
  • To print out your certificate, go to "My CME/CE Credits" under Membership/Activities.
  • Physicians will be able to print out or save their CME certificates.
  • Other attendees: if you require a certificate of participation, please contact

Contact Info

For questions about content or CE, email