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Methods Inf Med. 2018 Jul;57(S 01):e66-e81. doi: 10.3414/ME18-02-0002. Epub 2018 Jul 17.

HiGHmed - An Open Platform Approach to Enhance Care and Research across Institutional Boundaries.



This article is part of the Focus Theme of Methods of Information in Medicine on the German Medical Informatics Initiative. HiGHmed brings together 24 partners from academia and industry, aiming at improvements in care provision, biomedical research and epidemiology. By establishing a shared information governance framework, data integration centers and an open platform architecture in cooperation with independent healthcare providers, the meaningful reuse of data will be facilitated. Complementary, HiGHmed integrates a total of seven Medical Informatics curricula to develop collaborative structures and processes to train medical informatics professionals, physicians and researchers in new forms of data analytics.


We describe governance structures and policies that have proven effective during the conceptual phase. These were further adapted to take into account the specific needs of the development and networking phase, such as roll-out, carerelated aspects and our focus on curricula development in Medical Inform atics.


To address the challenges of organizational, technical and semantic interoperability, a concept for a scalable platform architecture, the HiGHmed Platform, was developed. We outline the basic principles and design goals of the open platform approach as well as the roles of standards and specifications such as IHE XDS, openEHR, SNOMED CT and HL7 FHIR. A shared governance framework provides the semantic artifacts which are needed to establish semantic interoperability.


Three use cases in the fields of oncology, cardiology and infection control will demonstrate the capabilities of the HiGHmed approach. Each of the use cases entails diverse challenges in terms of data protection, privacy and security, including clinical use of genome sequencing data (oncology), continuous longitudinal monitoring of physical activity (cardiology) and cross-site analysis of patient movement data (infection control).


Besides the need for a shared governance framework and a technical infrastructure, backing from clinical leaders is a crucial factor. Moreover, firm and sustainable commitment by participating organizations to collaborate in further development of their information system architectures is needed. Other challenges including topics such as data quality, privacy regulations, and patient consent will be addressed throughout the project.

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