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Towards plug-and-play integration of archetypes into legacy electronic health record systems: the ArchiMed experience

DOI: 10.1186/1472-6947-13-11

Keywords: Medical records , Medical records systems , Computerized , Reference standards , Models , Theoretical

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Background The dual model approach represents a promising solution for achieving semantically interoperable standardized electronic health record (EHR) exchange. Its acceptance, however, will depend on the effort required for integrating archetypes into legacy EHR systems. Methods We propose a corresponding approach that: (a) automatically generates entry forms in legacy EHR systems from archetypes; and (b) allows the immediate export of EHR documents that are recorded via the generated forms and stored in the EHR systems’ internal format as standardized and archetype-compliant EHR extracts. As a prerequisite for applying our approach, we define a set of basic requirements for the EHR systems. Results We tested our approach with an EHR system called ArchiMed and were able to successfully integrate 15 archetypes from a test set of 27. For 12 archetypes, the form generation failed owing to a particular type of complex structure (multiple repeating subnodes), which was prescribed by the archetypes but not supported by ArchiMed’s data model. Conclusions Our experiences show that archetypes should be customized based on the planned application scenario before their integration. This would allow problematic structures to be dissolved and irrelevant optional archetype nodes to be removed. For customization of archetypes, openEHR templates or specialized archetypes may be employed. Gaps in the data types or terminological features supported by an EHR system will often not preclude integration of the relevant archetypes. More work needs to be done on the usability of the generated forms.


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