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Acad Med. 1997 Apr;72(4):281-6.

Three perspectives on integrated clinical databases.

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Section of Medical Informatics, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


The dramatic transformation of health care organizations from independent local entities into regional and national integrated health care delivery enterprises has forced a reevaluation of the role of information systems. Until recently, nearly all clinical information systems were acquired to support financial and administrative services within single facilities. When independent facilities merge to form an integrated health system (IHS), they find that their unique computer systems do not allow for the sharing or combining of clinical data. However, new technologies are beginning to enable patient-specific data scattered among many information systems in many different hospitals and ambulatory care settings to be unified into a single database called a clinical data repository. The hope is that comprehensive electronic clinical records can enable IHSs to meet their goals of improving the quality and reducing the cost of health care. As the number of technological impediments to forming integrated clinical information systems rapidly decreases, nontechnologic issues surrounding the sharing of patient information become more prominent. The author focuses on the clinician's, the administrator's, and the patient's unique perspectives on the benefits and possible problems associated with clinical data repositories. He then describes how one IHS, together with an academic medical institution, has begun to grapple with many of these concerns through an effort called Project Spectrum. The goal of the project is the successful implementation of a comprehensive clinical data repository.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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