Interoperability writ, local and large

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Silos are a very good repository for storing grain; as a healthcare information system architectural construct, they present a significant challenge for data interoperability and integration. Unfortunately, much of the existing healthcare IT infrastructure was built on feudal models deploying department-based systems that are unable to interact with their counterparts in other clinical areas.

Like the broadsword and chain mail, this type of informatics schema belongs on display in a museum, but the investment in these systems is too great to call a healthcare IT mulligan and start over. A successful strategy for unlocking these data silos is deploying a system that taps into the various resources and presents the information in a clinically beneficial manner.

On the local level, a group of radiology luminaries from Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Florida Health Center measured the results of the deployment of a computerized radiology order entry (CROE) and decision support (DS) system. This tool incorporated the American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria for diagnostic imaging orders and was integrated into the workflow of a multispecialty group practice.

Find out how these interoperable tools led to a drastic decrease in high-cost imaging growth.

On the national level, an open-source VirtualPACS application developed as part of the National Cancer Institute’s cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG) has demonstrated the capability to share diagnostic image data across institutions.

The application allows the federation of multiple remote data sources, including those that do not support DICOM messaging, and presents them to a DICOM client as a single virtual resource.

If you have a comment or report to share about the development or deployment of interoperability or integration tools in your practice, please contact me at the address below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jonathan Batchelor, Web Editor