PMCC PMCC

Search tips
Search criteria

Advanced
Results 1-25 (1522983)

Clipboard (0)
None

Related Articles

1.  An ICT infrastructure to integrate clinical and molecular data in oncology research 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13(Suppl 4):S5.
Background
The ONCO-i2b2 platform is a bioinformatics tool designed to integrate clinical and research data and support translational research in oncology. It is implemented by the University of Pavia and the IRCCS Fondazione Maugeri hospital (FSM), and grounded on the software developed by the Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside (i2b2) research center. I2b2 has delivered an open source suite based on a data warehouse, which is efficiently interrogated to find sets of interesting patients through a query tool interface.
Methods
Onco-i2b2 integrates data coming from multiple sources and allows the users to jointly query them. I2b2 data are then stored in a data warehouse, where facts are hierarchically structured as ontologies. Onco-i2b2 gathers data from the FSM pathology unit (PU) database and from the hospital biobank and merges them with the clinical information from the hospital information system.
Our main effort was to provide a robust integrated research environment, giving a particular emphasis to the integration process and facing different challenges, consecutively listed: biospecimen samples privacy and anonymization; synchronization of the biobank database with the i2b2 data warehouse through a series of Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) operations; development and integration of a Natural Language Processing (NLP) module, to retrieve coded information, such as SNOMED terms and malignant tumors (TNM) classifications, and clinical tests results from unstructured medical records. Furthermore, we have developed an internal SNOMED ontology rested on the NCBO BioPortal web services.
Results
Onco-i2b2 manages data of more than 6,500 patients with breast cancer diagnosis collected between 2001 and 2011 (over 390 of them have at least one biological sample in the cancer biobank), more than 47,000 visits and 96,000 observations over 960 medical concepts.
Conclusions
Onco-i2b2 is a concrete example of how integrated Information and Communication Technology architecture can be implemented to support translational research. The next steps of our project will involve the extension of its capabilities by implementing new plug-in devoted to bioinformatics data analysis as well as a temporal query module.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S4-S5
PMCID: PMC3303735  PMID: 22536972
2.  Design and Applications of a Multimodality Image Data Warehouse Framework 
A comprehensive data warehouse framework is needed, which encompasses imaging and non-imaging information in supporting disease management and research. The authors propose such a framework, describe general design principles and system architecture, and illustrate a multimodality neuroimaging data warehouse system implemented for clinical epilepsy research. The data warehouse system is built on top of a picture archiving and communication system (PACS) environment and applies an iterative object-oriented analysis and design (OOAD) approach and recognized data interface and design standards. The implementation is based on a Java CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) and Web-based architecture that separates the graphical user interface presentation, data warehouse business services, data staging area, and backend source systems into distinct software layers. To illustrate the practicality of the data warehouse system, the authors describe two distinct biomedical applications—namely, clinical diagnostic workup of multimodality neuroimaging cases and research data analysis and decision threshold on seizure foci lateralization. The image data warehouse framework can be modified and generalized for new application domains.
doi:10.1197/jamia.M0988
PMCID: PMC344584  PMID: 11971885
3.  IT Infrastructure Components for Biobanking 
Applied Clinical Informatics  2010;1(4):419-429.
Objective
Within translational research projects in the recent years large biobanks have been established, mostly supported by homegrown, proprietary software solutions. No general requirements for biobanking IT infrastructures have been published yet. This paper presents an exemplary biobanking IT architecture, a requirements specification for a biorepository management tool and exemplary illustrations of three major types of requirements.
Methods
We have pursued a comprehensive literature review for biobanking IT solutions and established an interdisciplinary expert panel for creating the requirements specification. The exemplary illustrations were derived from a requirements analysis within two university hospitals.
Results
The requirements specification comprises a catalog with more than 130 detailed requirements grouped into 3 major categories and 20 subcategories. Special attention is given to multitenancy capabilities in order to support the project-specific definition of varying research and bio-banking contexts, the definition of workflows to track sample processing, sample transportation and sample storage and the automated integration of preanalytic handling and storage robots.
Conclusion
IT support for biobanking projects can be based on a federated architectural framework comprising primary data sources for clinical annotations, a pseudonymization service, a clinical data warehouse with a flexible and user-friendly query interface and a biorepository management system. Flexibility and scalability of all such components are vital since large medical facilities such as university hospitals will have to support biobanking for varying monocentric and multicentric research scenarios and multiple medical clients.
doi:10.4338/ACI-2010-05-RA-0034
PMCID: PMC3633318  PMID: 23616851
Requirement specification; biobanking; translational research information technology infrastructure
4.  Computers in imaging and health care: Now and in the future 
Journal of Digital Imaging  2000;13(4):145-156.
Early picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) were characterized by the use of very expensive hardware devices, cumbersome display stations, duplication of database content, lack of interfaces to other clinical information systems, and immaturity in their understanding of the folder manager concepts and workflow reengineering. They were implemented historically at large academic medical centers by biomedical engineers and imaging informaticists. PACS were nonstandard, home-grown projects with mixed clinical acceptance. However, they clearly showed the great potential for PACS and filmless medical imaging. Filmless radiology is a reality today. The advent of efficient softcopy display of images provides a means for dealing with the ever-increasing number of studies and number of images per study. Computer power has increased, and archival storage cost has decreased to the extent that the economics of PACS is justifiable with respect to film. Network bandwidths have increased to allow large studies of many megabytes to arrive at display stations within seconds of examination completion. PACS vendors have recognized the need for efficient workflow and have built systems with intelligence in the mangement of patient data. Close integration with the hospital information system (HIS)-radiology information system (RIS) is critical for system functionality. Successful implementation of PACS requires integration or interoperation with hospital and radiology information systems. Besides the economic advantages, secure rapid access to all clinical information on patients, including imaging studies, anytime and anywhere, enhances the quality of patient care, although it is difficult to quantify. Medical image management systems are maturing, providing access outside of the radiology department to images and clinical information throughout the hospital or the enterprise via the Internet. Small and medium-sized community hospitals, private practices, and outpatient centers in rural areas will begin realizing the benefits of PACS already realized by the large tertiary care academic medical centers and research institutions. Hand-held devices and the Worldwide Web are going to change the way people communicate and do business. The impact on health care will be huge, including radiology. Computer-aided diagnosis, decision support tools, virtual imaging, and guidance systems will transform our practice as value-added applications utilizing the technologies pushed by PACS development efforts. Outcomes data and the electronic medical record (EMR) will drive our interactions with referring physicians and we expect the radiologist to become the informaticist, a new version of the medical management consultant.
doi:10.1007/BF03168389
PMCID: PMC3453069  PMID: 11110253
picture archiving and communication systems (PACS); image storage and retrieval; folder manager; workflow manager; radiology information systems; computers; digital radiology
5.  Development of a Clinical Data Warehouse for Hospital Infection Control 
Existing data stored in a hospital's transactional servers have enormous potential to improve performance measurement and health care quality. Accessing, organizing, and using these data to support research and quality improvement projects are evolving challenges for hospital systems. The authors report development of a clinical data warehouse that they created by importing data from the information systems of three affiliated public hospitals. They describe their methodology; difficulties encountered; responses from administrators, computer specialists, and clinicians; and the steps taken to capture and store patient-level data. The authors provide examples of their use of the clinical data warehouse to monitor antimicrobial resistance, to measure antimicrobial use, to detect hospital-acquired bloodstream infections, to measure the cost of infections, and to detect antimicrobial prescribing errors. In addition, they estimate the amount of time and money saved and the increased precision achieved through the practical application of the data warehouse.
doi:10.1197/jamia.M1299
PMCID: PMC212782  PMID: 12807807
6.  Clinical and research data integration: the i2b2-FSM experience  
In order to support and improve the efficiency of clinical research in specific health area, the University of Pavia and the IRCCS Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri of Pavia (FSM) are developing and implementing an i2b2 based platform, designed to collect data coming from hospital clinical practice and scientific research. The work made in FSM is committed to support an affordable, less intrusive and more personalized care, increasing the quality of clinical practice as well as improving the scientific results. Such a aim depends on the application of information and communication technologies and the use of data. An integrated data warehouse has been implemented to support clinicians and researchers in two medical fields with a great impact on the population: oncology and cardiology. Furthermore the data warehouse approach has been tested with administrative information, allowing a financial view of clinical data.
PMCID: PMC3845786  PMID: 24303274
7.  Pseudonymization of patient identifiers for translational research 
Background
The usage of patient data for research poses risks concerning the patients’ privacy and informational self-determination. Next-generation-sequencing technologies and various other methods gain data from biospecimen, both for translational research and personalized medicine. If these biospecimen are anonymized, individual research results from genomic research, which should be offered to patients in a clinically relevant timeframe, cannot be associated back to the individual. This raises an ethical concern and challenges the legitimacy of anonymized patient samples. In this paper we present a new approach which supports both data privacy and the possibility to give feedback to patients about their individual research results.
Methods
We examined previously published privacy concepts regarding a streamlined de-pseudonymization process and a patient-based pseudonym as applicable to research with genomic data and warehousing approaches. All concepts identified in the literature review were compared to each other and analyzed for their applicability to translational research projects. We evaluated how these concepts cope with challenges implicated by personalized medicine. Therefore, both person-centricity issues and a separation of pseudonymization and de-pseudonymization stood out as a central theme in our examination. This motivated us to enhance an existing pseudonymization method regarding a separation of duties.
Results
The existing concepts rely on external trusted third parties, making de-pseudonymization a multistage process involving additional interpersonal communication, which might cause critical delays in patient care. Therefore we propose an enhanced method with an asymmetric encryption scheme separating the duties of pseudonymization and de-pseudonymization. The pseudonymization service provider is unable to conclude the patient identifier from the pseudonym, but assigns this ability to an authorized third party (ombudsman) instead. To solve person-centricity issues, a collision-resistant function is incorporated into the method. These two facts combined enable us to address essential challenges in translational research. A productive software prototype was implemented to prove the functionality of the suggested translational, data privacy-preserving method. Eventually, we performed a threat analysis to evaluate potential hazards connected with this pseudonymization method.
Conclusions
The proposed method offers sustainable organizational simplification regarding an ethically indicated, but secure and controlled process of de-pseudonymizing patients. A pseudonym is patient-centered to allow correlating separate datasets from one patient. Therefore, this method bridges the gap between bench and bedside in translational research while preserving patient privacy. Assigned ombudsmen are able to de-pseudonymize a patient, if an individual research result is clinically relevant.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-13-75
PMCID: PMC3733629  PMID: 23883409
Pseudonymization; Pseudonymisation; Pseudonym; Anonyms and pseudonyms; Translational research; Biobanking; Data privacy; Individual research results; Record linkage; Re-identification; De-pseudonymization; De-pseudonymisation
8.  Implementation of the CDC translational informatics platform - from genetic variants to the national Swedish Rheumatology Quality Register 
Background
Sequencing of the human genome and the subsequent analyses have produced immense volumes of data. The technological advances have opened new windows into genomics beyond the DNA sequence. In parallel, clinical practice generate large amounts of data. This represents an underused data source that has much greater potential in translational research than is currently realized. This research aims at implementing a translational medicine informatics platform to integrate clinical data (disease diagnosis, diseases activity and treatment) of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients from Karolinska University Hospital and their research database (biobanks, genotype variants and serology) at the Center for Molecular Medicine, Karolinska Institutet.
Methods
Requirements engineering methods were utilized to identify user requirements. Unified Modeling Language and data modeling methods were used to model the universe of discourse and data sources. Oracle11g were used as the database management system, and the clinical development center (CDC) was used as the application interface. Patient data were anonymized, and we employed authorization and security methods to protect the system.
Results
We developed a user requirement matrix, which provided a framework for evaluating three translation informatics systems. The implementation of the CDC successfully integrated biological research database (15172 DNA, serum and synovial samples, 1436 cell samples and 65 SNPs per patient) and clinical database (5652 clinical visit) for the cohort of 379 patients presents three profiles. Basic functionalities provided by the translational medicine platform are research data management, development of bioinformatics workflow and analysis, sub-cohort selection, and re-use of clinical data in research settings. Finally, the system allowed researchers to extract subsets of attributes from cohorts according to specific biological, clinical, or statistical features.
Conclusions
Research and clinical database integration is a real challenge and a road-block in translational research. Through this research we addressed the challenges and demonstrated the usefulness of CDC. We adhered to ethical regulations pertaining to patient data, and we determined that the existing software solutions cannot meet the translational research needs at hand. We used RA as a test case since we have ample data on active and longitudinal cohort.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-11-85
PMCID: PMC3623742  PMID: 23548156
Swedish Rheumatology Quality Register (SRQ); Translational medicine platform; Secondary use of clinical data; Patient de-identification
9.  Asan Medical Information System for Healthcare Quality Improvement 
Healthcare Informatics Research  2010;16(3):191-197.
Objectives
This purpose of this paper is to introduce the status of the Asan Medical Center (AMC) medical information system with respect to healthcare quality improvement.
Methods
Asan Medical Information System (AMIS) is projected to become a completely electronic and digital information hospital. AMIS has played a role in improving the health care quality based on the following measures: safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency, privacy, and security.
Results
AMIS consisted of several distinctive systems: order communication system, electronic medical record, picture archiving communication system, clinical research information system, data warehouse, enterprise resource planning, IT service management system, and disaster recovery system. The most distinctive features of AMIS were the high alert-medication recognition & management system, the integrated and severity stratified alert system, the integrated patient monitoring system, the perioperative diabetic care monitoring and support system, and the clinical indicator management system.
Conclusions
AMIS provides IT services for AMC, 7 affiliated hospitals and over 5,000 partners clinics, and was developed to improve healthcare services. The current challenge of AMIS is standard and interoperability. A global health IT strategy is needed to get through the current challenges and to provide new services as needed.
doi:10.4258/hir.2010.16.3.191
PMCID: PMC3089858  PMID: 21818439
Hospital Information Systems; Quality of Health Care; Clinical Decision Support Systems; Electronic Medical Record
10.  A pragmatic method for electronic medical record-based observational studies: developing an electronic medical records retrieval system for clinical research 
BMJ Open  2012;2(6):e001622.
Objective
The use of electronic medical record (EMR) data is necessary to improve clinical research efficiency. However, it is not easy to identify patients who meet research eligibility criteria and collect the necessary information from EMRs because the data collection process must integrate various techniques, including the development of a data warehouse and translation of eligibility criteria into computable criteria. This research aimed to demonstrate an electronic medical records retrieval system (ERS) and an example of a hospital-based cohort study that identified both patients and exposure with an ERS. We also evaluated the feasibility and usefulness of the method.
Design
The system was developed and evaluated.
Participants
In total, 800 000 cases of clinical information stored in EMRs at our hospital were used.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
The feasibility and usefulness of the ERS, the method to convert text from eligible criteria to computable criteria, and a confirmation method to increase research data accuracy.
Results
To comprehensively and efficiently collect information from patients participating in clinical research, we developed an ERS. To create the ERS database, we designed a multidimensional data model optimised for patient identification. We also devised practical methods to translate narrative eligibility criteria into computable parameters. We applied the system to an actual hospital-based cohort study performed at our hospital and converted the test results into computable criteria. Based on this information, we identified eligible patients and extracted data necessary for confirmation by our investigators and for statistical analyses with our ERS.
Conclusions
We propose a pragmatic methodology to identify patients from EMRs who meet clinical research eligibility criteria. Our ERS allowed for the efficient collection of information on the eligibility of a given patient, reduced the labour required from the investigators and improved the reliability of the results.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001622
PMCID: PMC3533000  PMID: 23117567
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery; Public Health; Statistics & Research Methods
11.  Managing clinical research permissions electronically 
Clinical trials (London, England)  2013;10(4):604-611.
Background
One mechanism to increase participation in research is to solicit potential research participants’ general willingness to be recruited into clinical trials. Such research permissions and consents typically are collected on paper upon patient registration. We describe a novel method of capturing this information electronically.
Purpose
The objective is to enable the collection of research permissions and informed consent data electronically to permit tracking of potential research participants’ interest in current and future research involvement and to provide a foundation for facilitating the research workflow.
Methods
The project involved systematic analysis focused on key areas, including existing business practices, registration processes, and permission collection workflows, and ascertaining best practices for presenting consent information to users via tablet technology and capturing permissions data. Analysis was followed by an iterative software development cycle with feedback from subject matter experts and users.
Results
An initial version of the software was piloted at one institution in South Carolina for a period of 1 year, during which consents and permission were collected during 2524 registrations of patients. The captured research permission data were transmitted to a clinical data warehouse. The software was later released as an open-source package that can be adopted for use by other institutions.
Limitations
There are significant ethical, legal, and informatics challenges that must be addressed at an institution to deploy such a system. We have not yet assessed the long-term impact of the system on recruitment of patients to clinical trials.
Conclusions
We propose that by improving the ability to track willing potential research participants, we can improve recruitment into clinical trials and, in the process, improve patient education by introducing multimedia to informed consent documents.
doi:10.1177/1740774513491338
PMCID: PMC4213063  PMID: 23785065
12.  The Impact of eHealth on the Quality and Safety of Health Care: A Systematic Overview 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(1):e1000387.
Aziz Sheikh and colleagues report the findings of their systematic overview that assessed the impact of eHealth solutions on the quality and safety of health care.
Background
There is considerable international interest in exploiting the potential of digital solutions to enhance the quality and safety of health care. Implementations of transformative eHealth technologies are underway globally, often at very considerable cost. In order to assess the impact of eHealth solutions on the quality and safety of health care, and to inform policy decisions on eHealth deployments, we undertook a systematic review of systematic reviews assessing the effectiveness and consequences of various eHealth technologies on the quality and safety of care.
Methods and Findings
We developed novel search strategies, conceptual maps of health care quality, safety, and eHealth interventions, and then systematically identified, scrutinised, and synthesised the systematic review literature. Major biomedical databases were searched to identify systematic reviews published between 1997 and 2010. Related theoretical, methodological, and technical material was also reviewed. We identified 53 systematic reviews that focused on assessing the impact of eHealth interventions on the quality and/or safety of health care and 55 supplementary systematic reviews providing relevant supportive information. This systematic review literature was found to be generally of substandard quality with regards to methodology, reporting, and utility. We thematically categorised eHealth technologies into three main areas: (1) storing, managing, and transmission of data; (2) clinical decision support; and (3) facilitating care from a distance. We found that despite support from policymakers, there was relatively little empirical evidence to substantiate many of the claims made in relation to these technologies. Whether the success of those relatively few solutions identified to improve quality and safety would continue if these were deployed beyond the contexts in which they were originally developed, has yet to be established. Importantly, best practice guidelines in effective development and deployment strategies are lacking.
Conclusions
There is a large gap between the postulated and empirically demonstrated benefits of eHealth technologies. In addition, there is a lack of robust research on the risks of implementing these technologies and their cost-effectiveness has yet to be demonstrated, despite being frequently promoted by policymakers and “techno-enthusiasts” as if this was a given. In the light of the paucity of evidence in relation to improvements in patient outcomes, as well as the lack of evidence on their cost-effectiveness, it is vital that future eHealth technologies are evaluated against a comprehensive set of measures, ideally throughout all stages of the technology's life cycle. Such evaluation should be characterised by careful attention to socio-technical factors to maximise the likelihood of successful implementation and adoption.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
There is considerable international interest in exploiting the potential of digital health care solutions, often referred to as eHealth—the use of information and communication technologies—to enhance the quality and safety of health care. Often accompanied by large costs, any large-scale expenditure on eHealth—such as electronic health records, picture archiving and communication systems, ePrescribing, associated computerized provider order entry systems, and computerized decision support systems—has tended to be justified on the grounds that these are efficient and cost-effective means for improving health care. In 2005, the World Health Assembly passed an eHealth resolution (WHA 58.28) that acknowledged, “eHealth is the cost-effective and secure use of information and communications technologies in support of health and health-related fields, including health-care services, health surveillance, health literature, and health education, knowledge and research,” and urged member states to develop and implement eHealth technologies. Since then, implementing eHealth technologies has become a main priority for many countries. For example, England has invested at least £12.8 billion in a National Programme for Information Technology for the National Health Service, and the Obama administration in the United States has committed to a US$38 billion eHealth investment in health care.
Why Was This Study Done?
Despite the wide endorsement of and support for eHealth, the scientific basis of its benefits—which are repeatedly made and often uncritically accepted—remains to be firmly established. A robust evidence-based perspective on the advantages on eHealth could help to suggest priority areas that have the greatest potential for benefit to patients and also to inform international eHealth deliberations on costs. Therefore, in order to better inform the international community, the authors systematically reviewed the published systematic review literature on eHealth technologies and evaluated the impact of these technologies on the quality and safety of health care delivery.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers divided eHealth technologies into three main categories: (1) storing, managing, and transmission of data; (2) clinical decision support; and (3) facilitating care from a distance. Then, implementing methods based on those developed by the Cochrane Collaboration and the NHS Service Delivery and Organisation Programme, the researchers used detailed search strategies and maps of health care quality, safety, and eHealth interventions to identify relevant systematic reviews (and related theoretical, methodological, and technical material) published between 1997 and 2010. Using these techniques, the researchers retrieved a total of 46,349 references from which they identified 108 reviews. The 53 reviews that the researchers finally selected (and critically reviewed) provided the main evidence base for assessing the impact of eHealth technologies in the three categories selected.
In their systematic review of systematic reviews, the researchers included electronic health records and picture archiving communications systems in their evaluation of category 1, computerized provider (or physician) order entry and e-prescribing in category 2, and all clinical information systems that, when used in the context of eHealth technologies, integrate clinical and demographic patient information to support clinician decision making in category 3.
The researchers found that many of the clinical claims made about the most commonly used eHealth technologies were not substantiated by empirical evidence. The evidence base in support of eHealth technologies was weak and inconsistent and importantly, there was insubstantial evidence to support the cost-effectiveness of these technologies. For example, the researchers only found limited evidence that some of the many presumed benefits could be realized; importantly, they also found some evidence that introducing these new technologies may on occasions also generate new risks such as prescribers becoming over-reliant on clinical decision support for e-prescribing, or overestimate its functionality, resulting in decreased practitioner performance.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers found that despite the wide support for eHealth technologies and the frequently made claims by policy makers when constructing business cases to raise funds for large-scale eHealth projects, there is as yet relatively little empirical evidence to substantiate many of the claims made about eHealth technologies. In addition, even for the eHealth technology tools that have proven to be successful, there is little evidence to show that such tools would continue to be successful beyond the contexts in which they were originally developed. Therefore, in light of the lack of evidence in relation to improvements in patient outcomes, as well as the lack of evidence on their cost-effectiveness, the authors say that future eHealth technologies should be evaluated against a comprehensive set of measures, ideally throughout all stages of the technology's life cycle, and include socio-technical factors to maximize the likelihood of successful implementation and adoption in a given context. Furthermore, it is equally important that eHealth projects that have already been commissioned are subject to rigorous, multidisciplinary, and independent evaluation.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000387.
The authors' broader study is: Car J, Black A, Anandan C, Cresswell K, Pagliari C, McKinstry B, et al. (2008) The Impact of eHealth on the Quality and Safety of Healthcare. Available at: http://www.haps.bham.ac.uk/publichealth/cfhep/001.shtml
More information is available on the World Health Assembly eHealth resolution
The World Health Organization provides information at the Global Observatory on eHealth, as well as a global insight into eHealth developments
The European Commission provides Information on eHealth in Europe and some examples of good eHealth practice
More information is provided on NHS Connecting for Health
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000387
PMCID: PMC3022523  PMID: 21267058
13.  A Multifaceted Intervention to Implement Guidelines and Improve Admission Paediatric Care in Kenyan District Hospitals: A Cluster Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001018.
Philip Ayieko and colleagues report the outcomes of a cluster-randomized trial carried out in eight Kenyan district hospitals evaluating the effects of a complex intervention involving improved training and supervision for clinicians. They found a higher performance of hospitals assigned to the complex intervention on a variety of process of care measures, as compared to those receiving the control intervention.
Background
In developing countries referral of severely ill children from primary care to district hospitals is common, but hospital care is often of poor quality. However, strategies to change multiple paediatric care practices in rural hospitals have rarely been evaluated.
Methods and Findings
This cluster randomized trial was conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals, four of which were randomly assigned to a full intervention aimed at improving quality of clinical care (evidence-based guidelines, training, job aides, local facilitation, supervision, and face-to-face feedback; n = 4) and the remaining four to control intervention (guidelines, didactic training, job aides, and written feedback; n = 4). Prespecified structure, process, and outcome indicators were measured at baseline and during three and five 6-monthly surveys in control and intervention hospitals, respectively. Primary outcomes were process of care measures, assessed at 18 months postbaseline.
In both groups performance improved from baseline. Completion of admission assessment tasks was higher in intervention sites at 18 months (mean = 0.94 versus 0.65, adjusted difference 0.54 [95% confidence interval 0.05–0.29]). Uptake of guideline recommended therapeutic practices was also higher within intervention hospitals: adoption of once daily gentamicin (89.2% versus 74.4%; 17.1% [8.04%–26.1%]); loading dose quinine (91.9% versus 66.7%, 26.3% [−3.66% to 56.3%]); and adequate prescriptions of intravenous fluids for severe dehydration (67.2% versus 40.6%; 29.9% [10.9%–48.9%]). The proportion of children receiving inappropriate doses of drugs in intervention hospitals was lower (quinine dose >40 mg/kg/day; 1.0% versus 7.5%; −6.5% [−12.9% to 0.20%]), and inadequate gentamicin dose (2.2% versus 9.0%; −6.8% [−11.9% to −1.6%]).
Conclusions
Specific efforts are needed to improve hospital care in developing countries. A full, multifaceted intervention was associated with greater changes in practice spanning multiple, high mortality conditions in rural Kenyan hospitals than a partial intervention, providing one model for bridging the evidence to practice gap and improving admission care in similar settings.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN42996612
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2008, nearly 10 million children died in early childhood. Nearly all these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries—half were in Africa. In Kenya, for example, 74 out every 1,000 children born died before they reached their fifth birthday. About half of all childhood (pediatric) deaths in developing countries are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Deaths from these common diseases could be prevented if all sick children had access to quality health care in the community (“primary” health care provided by health centers, pharmacists, family doctors, and traditional healers) and in district hospitals (“secondary” health care). Unfortunately, primary health care facilities in developing countries often lack essential diagnostic capabilities and drugs, and pediatric hospital care is frequently inadequate with many deaths occurring soon after admission. Consequently, in 1996, as part of global efforts to reduce childhood illnesses and deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) introduced the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) strategy. This approach to child health focuses on the well-being of the whole child and aims to improve the case management skills of health care staff at all levels, health systems, and family and community health practices.
Why Was This Study Done?
The implementation of IMCI has been evaluated at the primary health care level, but its implementation in district hospitals has not been evaluated. So, for example, interventions designed to encourage the routine use of WHO disease-specific guidelines in rural pediatric hospitals have not been tested. In this cluster randomized trial, the researchers develop and test a multifaceted intervention designed to improve the implementation of treatment guidelines and admission pediatric care in district hospitals in Kenya. In a cluster randomized trial, groups of patients rather than individual patients are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in different “clusters” of patients are compared. In this trial, each cluster is a district hospital.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned eight Kenyan district hospitals to the “full” or “control” intervention, interventions that differed in intensity but that both included more strategies to promote implementation of best practice than are usually applied in Kenyan rural hospitals. The full intervention included provision of clinical practice guidelines and training in their use, six-monthly survey-based hospital assessments followed by face-to-face feedback of survey findings, 5.5 days training for health care workers, provision of job aids such as structured pediatric admission records, external supervision, and the identification of a local facilitator to promote guideline use and to provide on-site problem solving. The control intervention included the provision of clinical practice guidelines (without training in their use) and job aids, six-monthly surveys with written feedback, and a 1.5-day lecture-based seminar to explain the guidelines. The researchers compared the implementation of various processes of care (activities of patients and doctors undertaken to ensure delivery of care) in the intervention and control hospitals at baseline and 18 months later. The performance of both groups of hospitals improved during the trial but more markedly in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. At 18 months, the completion of admission assessment tasks and the uptake of guideline-recommended clinical practices were both higher in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. Moreover, a lower proportion of children received inappropriate doses of drugs such as quinine for malaria in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that specific efforts are needed to improve pediatric care in rural Kenya and suggest that interventions that include more approaches to changing clinical practice may be more effective than interventions that include fewer approaches. These findings are limited by certain aspects of the trial design, such as the small number of participating hospitals, and may not be generalizable to other hospitals in Kenya or to hospitals in other developing countries. Thus, although these findings seem to suggest that efforts to implement and scale up improved secondary pediatric health care will need to include more than the production and dissemination of printed materials, further research including trials or evaluation of test programs are necessary before widespread adoption of any multifaceted approach (which will need to be tailored to local conditions and available resources) can be contemplated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018.
WHO provides information on efforts to reduce global child mortality and on Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI); the WHO pocket book “Hospital care for children contains guidelines for the management of common illnesses with limited resources (available in several languages)
UNICEF also provides information on efforts to reduce child mortality and detailed statistics on child mortality
The iDOC Africa Web site, which is dedicated to improving the delivery of hospital care for children and newborns in Africa, provides links to the clinical guidelines and other resources used in this study
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018
PMCID: PMC3071366  PMID: 21483712
14.  Eurocan plus report: feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities 
Summary
The EUROCAN+PLUS Project, called for by the European Parliament, was launched in October 2005 as a feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities in Europe. Over the course of the next two years, the Project process organized over 60 large meetings and countless smaller meetings that gathered in total over a thousand people, the largest Europe–wide consultation ever conducted in the field of cancer research.
Despite a strong tradition in biomedical science in Europe, fragmentation and lack of sustainability remain formidable challenges for implementing innovative cancer research and cancer care improvement. There is an enormous duplication of research effort in the Member States, which wastes time, wastes money and severely limits the total intellectual concentration on the wide cancer problem. There is a striking lack of communication between some of the biggest actors on the European scene, and there are palpable tensions between funders and those researchers seeking funds.
It is essential to include the patients’ voice in the establishment of priority areas in cancer research at the present time. The necessity to have dialogue between funders and scientists to establish the best mechanisms to meet the needs of the entire community is evident. A top priority should be the development of translational research (in its widest form), leading to the development of effective and innovative cancer treatments and preventive strategies. Translational research ranges from bench–to–bedside innovative cancer therapies and extends to include bringing about changes in population behaviours when a risk factor is established.
The EUROCAN+PLUS Project recommends the creation of a small, permanent and independent European Cancer Initiative (ECI). This should be a model structure and was widely supported at both General Assemblies of the project. The ECI should assume responsibility for stimulating innovative cancer research and facilitating processes, becoming the common voice of the cancer research community and serving as an interface between the cancer research community and European citizens, patients’ organizations, European institutions, Member States, industry and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), putting into practice solutions aimed at alleviating barriers to collaboration and coordination of cancer research activities in the European Union, and dealing with legal and regulatory issues. The development of an effective ECI will require time, but this entity should be established immediately. As an initial step, coordination efforts should be directed towards the creation of a platform on translational research that could encompass (1) coordination between basic, clinical and epidemiological research; (2) formal agreements of co–operation between comprehensive cancer centres and basic research laboratories throughout Europe and (3) networking between funding bodies at the European level.
The European Parliament and its instruments have had a major influence in cancer control in Europe, notably in tobacco control and in the implementation of effective population–based screening. To make further progress there is a need for novelty and innovation in cancer research and prevention in Europe, and having a platform such as the ECI, where those involved in all aspects of cancer research can meet, discuss and interact, is a decisive development for Europe.
Executive Summary
Cancer is one of the biggest public health crises facing Europe in the 21st century—one for which Europe is currently not prepared nor preparing itself. Cancer is a major cause of death in Europe with two million casualties and three million new cases diagnosed annually, and the situation is set to worsen as the population ages.
These facts led the European Parliament, through the Research Directorate-General of the European Commission, to call for initiatives for better coordination of cancer research efforts in the European Union. The EUROCAN+PLUS Project was launched in October 2005 as a feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities. Over the course of the next two years, the Project process organized over 60 large meetings and countless smaller meetings that gathered in total over a thousand people. In this respect, the Project became the largest Europe-wide consultation ever conducted in the field of cancer research, implicating researchers, cancer centres and hospitals, administrators, healthcare professionals, funding agencies, industry, patients’ organizations and patients.
The Project first identified barriers impeding research and collaboration in research in Europe. Despite a strong tradition in biomedical science in Europe, fragmentation and lack of sustainability remain the formidable challenges for implementing innovative cancer research and cancer care improvement. There is an enormous duplication of research effort in the Member States, which wastes time, wastes money and severely limits the total intellectual concentration on the wide cancer problem. There is a striking lack of communication between some of the biggest actors on the European scene, and there are palpable tensions between funders and those researchers seeking funds.
In addition, there is a shortage of leadership, a multiplicity of institutions each focusing on its own agenda, sub–optimal contact with industry, inadequate training, non–existent career paths, low personnel mobility in research especially among clinicians and inefficient funding—all conspiring against efficient collaboration in cancer care and research. European cancer research today does not have a functional translational research continuum, that is the process that exploits biomedical research innovations and converts them into prevention methods, diagnostic tools and therapies. Moreover, epidemiological research is not integrated with other types of cancer research, and the implementation of the European Directives on Clinical Trials 1 and on Personal Data Protection 2 has further slowed the innovation process in Europe. Furthermore, large inequalities in health and research exist between the EU–15 and the New Member States.
The picture is not entirely bleak, however, as the European cancer research scene presents several strengths, such as excellent basic research and clinical research and innovative etiological research that should be better exploited.
When considering recommendations, several priority dimensions had to be retained. It is essential that proposals include actions and recommendations that can benefit all Member States of the European Union and not just States with the elite centres. It is also essential to have a broader patient orientation to help provide the knowledge to establish cancer control possibilities when we exhaust what can be achieved by the implementation of current knowledge. It is vital that the actions proposed can contribute to the Lisbon Strategy to make Europe more innovative and competitive in (cancer) research.
The Project participants identified six areas for which consensus solutions should be implemented in order to obtain better coordination of cancer research activities. The required solutions are as follows. The proactive management of innovation, detection, facilitation of collaborations and maintenance of healthy competition within the European cancer research community.The establishment of an exchange portal of information for health professionals, patients and policy makers.The provision of guidance for translational and clinical research including the establishment of a translational research platform involving comprehensive cancer centres and cancer research centres.The coordination of calls and financial management of cancer research projects.The construction of a ‘one–stop shop’ as a contact interface between the industry, small and medium enterprises, scientists and other stakeholders.The support of greater involvement of healthcare professionals in translational research and multidisciplinary training.
In the course of the EUROCAN+PLUS consultative process, several key collaborative projects emerged between the various groups and institutes engaged in the consultation. There was a collaboration network established with Europe’s leading Comprehensive Cancer Centres; funding was awarded for a closer collaboration of Owners of Cancer Registries in Europe (EUROCOURSE); there was funding received from FP7 for an extensive network of leading Biological Resource Centres in Europe (BBMRI); a Working Group identified the special needs of Central, Eastern and South–eastern Europe and proposed a remedy (‘Warsaw Declaration’), and the concept of developing a one–stop shop for dealing with academia and industry including the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) was discussed in detail.
Several other dimensions currently lacking were identified. There is an absolute necessity to include the patients’ voice in the establishment of priority areas in cancer research at the present time. It was a salutary lesson when it was recognized that all that is known about the quality of life of the cancer patient comes from the experience of a tiny proportion of cancer patients included in a few clinical trials. The necessity to have dialogue between funders and scientists to establish the best mechanisms to meet the needs of the entire community was evident. A top priority should be the development of translational research (in its widest form) and the development of effective and innovative cancer treatments and preventative strategies in the European Union. Translational research ranges from bench-to-bedside innovative cancer therapies and extends to include bringing about changes in population behaviours when a risk factor is established.
Having taken note of the barriers and the solutions and having examined relevant examples of existing European organizations in the field, it was agreed during the General Assembly of 19 November 2007 that the EUROCAN+PLUS Project had to recommend the creation of a small, permanent and neutral ECI. This should be a model structure and was widely supported at both General Assemblies of the project. The proposal is based on the successful model of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), and its principal aims include providing a forum where researchers from all backgrounds and from all countries can meet with members of other specialities including patients, nurses, clinicians, funders and scientific administrators to develop priority programmes to make Europe more competitive in research and more focused on the cancer patient.
The ECI should assume responsibility for: stimulating innovative cancer research and facilitating processes;becoming the common voice of the cancer research community and serving as an interface between the cancer research community and European citizens, patients’ and organizations;European institutions, Member States, industry and small and medium enterprises;putting into practice the aforementioned solutions aimed at alleviating barriers and coordinating cancer research activities in the EU;dealing with legal and regulatory issues.
Solutions implemented through the ECI will lead to better coordination and collaboration throughout Europe, more efficient use of resources, an increase in Europe’s attractiveness to the biomedical industry and better quality of cancer research and education of health professionals.
The Project considered that European legal instruments currently available were inadequate for addressing many aspects of the barriers identified and for the implementation of effective, lasting solutions. Therefore, the legal environment that could shelter an idea like the ECI remains to be defined but should be done so as a priority. In this context, the initiative of the European Commission for a new legal entity for research infrastructure might be a step in this direction. The development of an effective ECI will require time, but this should be established immediately. As an initial step, coordination efforts should be directed towards the creation of a platform on translational research that could encompass: (1) coordination between basic, clinical and epidemiological research; (2) formal agreements of co-operation between comprehensive cancer centres and basic research laboratories throughout Europe; (3) networking between funding bodies at the European level. Another topic deserving immediate attention is the creation of a European database on cancer research projects and cancer research facilities.
Despite enormous progress in cancer control in Europe during the past two decades, there was an increase of 300,000 in the number of new cases of cancer diagnosed between 2004 and 2006. The European Parliament and its instruments have had a major influence in cancer control, notably in tobacco control and in the implementation of effective population–based screening. To make further progress there is a need for novelty and innovation in cancer research and prevention in Europe, and having a platform such as the ECI, where those involved in all aspects of cancer research can meet, discuss and interact, is a decisive development for Europe.
doi:10.3332/ecancer.2011.84
PMCID: PMC3234055  PMID: 22274749
15.  Hospital Performance, the Local Economy, and the Local Workforce: Findings from a US National Longitudinal Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(6):e1000297.
Blustein and colleagues examine the associations between changes in hospital performance and their local economic resources. Locationally disadvantaged hospitals perform poorly on key indicators, raising concerns that pay-for-performance models may not reduce inequality.
Background
Pay-for-performance is an increasingly popular approach to improving health care quality, and the US government will soon implement pay-for-performance in hospitals nationwide. Yet hospital capacity to perform (and improve performance) likely depends on local resources. In this study, we quantify the association between hospital performance and local economic and human resources, and describe possible implications of pay-for-performance for socioeconomic equity.
Methods and Findings
We applied county-level measures of local economic and workforce resources to a national sample of US hospitals (n = 2,705), during the period 2004–2007. We analyzed performance for two common cardiac conditions (acute myocardial infarction [AMI] and heart failure [HF]), using process-of-care measures from the Hospital Quality Alliance [HQA], and isolated temporal trends and the contributions of individual resource dimensions on performance, using multivariable mixed models. Performance scores were translated into net scores for hospitals using the Performance Assessment Model, which has been suggested as a basis for reimbursement under Medicare's “Value-Based Purchasing” program. Our analyses showed that hospital performance is substantially associated with local economic and workforce resources. For example, for HF in 2004, hospitals located in counties with longstanding poverty had mean HQA composite scores of 73.0, compared with a mean of 84.1 for hospitals in counties without longstanding poverty (p<0.001). Hospitals located in counties in the lowest quartile with respect to college graduates in the workforce had mean HQA composite scores of 76.7, compared with a mean of 86.2 for hospitals in the highest quartile (p<0.001). Performance on AMI measures showed similar patterns. Performance improved generally over the study period. Nevertheless, by 2007—4 years after public reporting began—hospitals in locationally disadvantaged areas still lagged behind their locationally advantaged counterparts. This lag translated into substantially lower net scores under the Performance Assessment Model for hospital reimbursement.
Conclusions
Hospital performance on clinical process measures is associated with the quantity and quality of local economic and human resources. Medicare's hospital pay-for-performance program may exacerbate inequalities across regions, if implemented as currently proposed. Policymakers in the US and beyond may need to take into consideration the balance between greater efficiency through pay-for-performance and socioeconomic equity.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
These days, many people are rewarded for working hard and efficiently by being given bonuses when they reach preset performance targets. With a rapidly aging population and rising health care costs, policy makers in many developed countries are considering ways of maximizing value for money, including rewarding health care providers when they meet targets, under “pay-for-performance.” In the UK, for example, a major pay-for-performance initiative—the Quality and Outcomes Framework—began in 2004. All the country's general practices (primary health care facilities that deal with all medical ailments) now detail their achievements in terms of numerous clinical quality indicators for common chronic conditions (for example, the regularity of blood sugar checks for people with diabetes). They are then rewarded on the basis of these results.
Why Was This Study Done?
In the US, the government is poised to implement a nationwide pay-for-performance program in hospitals within Medicare, the government program that provides health insurance to Americans aged 65 years or older, as well as people with disabilities. However, some observers are concerned about the effect that the proposed pay-for-performance program might have on the distribution of health care resources in the US. Pay-for-performance assumes that health care providers have the economic and human resources that they need to perform or to improve their performance. But, if a hospital's capacity to perform depends on local resources, payment based on performance might worsen existing health care inequalities because hospitals in under-resourced areas might lose funds to hospitals in more affluent regions. In other words, the government might act as a reverse Robin Hood, taking from the poor and giving to the rich. In this study, the researchers examine the association between hospital performance and local economic and human resources, to explore whether this scenario is a plausible result of the pending change in US hospital reimbursement.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
US hospitals have voluntarily reported their performance on indicators of clinical care (“process-of-care measures”) for acute myocardial infarction (AMI, heart attack), heart failure (HF), and pneumonia under the Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA) program since 2004. The researchers identified 2,705 hospitals that had fully reported process-of-care measures for AMI and HF in both 2004 and 2007. They then used the “Performance Assessment Model” (a methodology developed by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to score hospital performance) to calculate scores for each hospital. Finally, they looked for associations between these scores and measures of the hospital's local economic and human resources such as population poverty levels and the percentage of college graduates in the workforce. Hospital performance was associated with local and economic workforce capacity, they report. Thus, hospitals in counties with longstanding poverty had lower average performance scores for HF and AMI than hospitals in affluent counties. Similarly, hospitals in counties with a low percentage of college graduates in the workforce had lower average performance scores than hospitals in counties where more of the workforce had been to college. Finally, although performance improved generally over the study period, hospitals in disadvantaged areas still lagged behind hospitals in advantaged areas in 2007.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that hospital performance (as measured by the clinical process measures considered here) is associated with the quantity and quality of local human and economic resources. Thus, the proposed Medicare hospital pay-for-performance program may exacerbate existing US health care inequalities by leading to the transfer of funds from hospitals in disadvantaged locations to those in advantaged locations. Although further studies are needed to confirm this conclusion, these findings have important implications for pay-for-performance programs in health care. They suggest that US policy makers may need to modify how they measure performance improvement—the current Performance Assessment Model gives hospitals that start from a low baseline less credit for improvements than those that start from a high baseline. This works against hospitals in disadvantaged locations, which start at a low baseline. Second and more generally, they suggest that there may be a tension between the efficiency goals of pay-for-performance and other equity goals of health care systems. In a world where resources vary across regions, the expectation that regions can perform equally may not be realistic.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000297.
KaiserEDU.org is an online resource for learning about the US health care system. It includes educational modules on such topics as the Medicare program and efforts to improve the quality of care
The Hospital Quality Alliance provides information on the quality of care in US hospitals
Information about the UK National Health Service Quality and Outcomes Framework pay-for-performance initiative for general practice surgeries is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000297
PMCID: PMC2893955  PMID: 20613863
16.  The development of an RDoC-based treatment program for adolescent depression: “Training for Awareness, Resilience, and Action” (TARA) 
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the current leading causes of disability worldwide. Adolescence is a vulnerable period for the onset of depression, with MDD affecting 8–20% of all youth. Traditional treatment methods have not been sufficiently effective to slow the increasing prevalence of adolescent depression. We therefore propose a new model for the treatment of adolescent depression – Training for Awareness, Resilience, and Action (TARA) – that is based on current understanding of developmental and depression neurobiology. The TARA model is aligned with the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) of the National Institute of Mental Health. In this article, we first address the relevance of RDoC to adolescent depression. Second, we identify the major RDoC domains of function involved in adolescent depression and organize them in a way that gives priority to domains thought to be driving the psychopathology. Third, we select therapeutic training strategies for TARA based on current scientific evidence of efficacy for the prioritized domains of function in a manner that maximizes time, resources, and feasibility. The TARA model takes into consideration the developmental limitation in top-down cognitive control in adolescence and promotes bottom-up strategies such as vagal afference to decrease limbic hyperactivation and its secondary effects. The program has been informed by mindfulness-based therapy and yoga, as well as modern psychotherapeutic techniques. The treatment program is semi-manualized, progressive, and applied in a module-based approach designed for a group setting that is to be conducted one session per week for 12 weeks. We hope that this work may form the basis for a novel and more effective treatment strategy for adolescent depression, as well as broaden the discussion on how to address this challenge.
doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00630
PMCID: PMC4137278  PMID: 25191250
adolescent depression; RDoC; treatment development; emotion regulation; attention training; yoga-based movement; mindfulness
17.  Design and utilization of the colorectal and pancreatic neoplasm virtual biorepository: An early detection research network initiative 
Background:
The Early Detection Research Network (EDRN) colorectal and pancreatic neoplasm virtual biorepository is a bioinformatics-driven system that provides high-quality clinicopathology-rich information for clinical biospecimens. This NCI-sponsored EDRN resource supports translational cancer research. The information model of this biorepository is based on three components: (a) development of common data elements (CDE), (b) a robust data entry tool and (c) comprehensive data query tools.
Methods:
The aim of the EDRN initiative is to develop and sustain a virtual biorepository for support of translational research. High-quality biospecimens were accrued and annotated with pertinent clinical, epidemiologic, molecular and genomic information. A user-friendly annotation tool and query tool was developed for this purpose. The various components of this annotation tool include: CDEs are developed from the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Cancer Checklists and North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACR) standards. The CDEs provides semantic and syntactic interoperability of the data sets by describing them in the form of metadata or data descriptor. The data entry tool is a portable and flexible Oracle-based data entry application, which is an easily mastered, web-based tool. The data query tool facilitates investigators to search deidentified information within the warehouse through a “point and click” interface thus enabling only the selected data elements to be essentially copied into a data mart using a dimensional-modeled structure from the warehouse’s relational structure.
Results:
The EDRN Colorectal and Pancreatic Neoplasm Virtual Biorepository database contains multimodal datasets that are available to investigators via a web-based query tool. At present, the database holds 2,405 cases and 2,068 tumor accessions. The data disclosure is strictly regulated by user’s authorization. The high-quality and well-characterized biospecimens have been used in different translational science research projects as well as to further various epidemiologic and genomics studies.
Conclusions:
The EDRN Colorectal and Pancreatic Neoplasm Virtual Biorepository with a tangible translational biomedical informatics infrastructure facilitates translational research. The data query tool acts as a central source and provides a mechanism for researchers to efficiently query clinically annotated datasets and biospecimens that are pertinent to their research areas. The tool ensures patient health information protection by disclosing only deidentified data with Institutional Review Board and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protocols.
doi:10.4103/2153-3539.70831
PMCID: PMC2956178  PMID: 21031013
Colorectal and pancreatic neoplasm; tissue banking informatics
18.  Implementation of a Radiology Electronic Imaging Network: The community teaching hospital experience 
Journal of Digital Imaging  1997;10(Suppl 1):146-149.
Because of their typically small in-house computer and network staff, non-university hospitals often hesitate to consider picture archiving and communication system (PACS) as a solution to the very demanding financial, clinical, and technological needs of today’s Radiology Department. This article presents the experiences of the 3-year process for the design and implementation of the Radiology Electronic Imaging Network (REIN) in the Department of Radiology at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital (WPH). WPH embarked on this project in late 1994 to find a solution to the very pressing demands to reduce operating costs and improve service to primary care clinicians, both on-site and at WPH-affiliated clinics. A five-member committee consisting of in-house medical, administrative, information services, and medical physics staff was formed to design a network that would satisfy specific needs of WPH by using a phased mini-PACS approach and to select the various vendors to implement it. Suppliers for individual mini-PACS were selected to provide modality-specific solutions. For the backbone network, vendors were evaluated based on their technological progress, competence and resources, the commitment of the company to the imaging network business, and their willingness to embark on a mid-sized PACS project such as this. Based on patient volume, workflow patterns, and image quality requirements, the committee produced proposals detailing number and location of workstations, short- and long-term memory requirements, and so on. Computed tomography/magnetic resonance imaging, computer radiography, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, digital fluoroscopy, and angiography mini-PACS have been implemented over the past 2 years, and most of these are already integrated into the main REIN. This article presents detailed information concerning the design, selection and implementation processes, including storage requirement calculations. This indicates that PACS implementation is achievable for community hospitals with small computer, networking, and physics departments. Also presented are recommendations concerning design and vendor selection, that may be helpful for similar institutions.
doi:10.1007/BF03168682
PMCID: PMC3452795  PMID: 9268864
PACS; CR; RFP; RIS; display workstation
19.  Patient-Safety-Related Hospital Deaths in England: Thematic Analysis of Incidents Reported to a National Database, 2010–2012 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(6):e1001667.
Sukhmeet Panesar and colleagues classified reports of patient-safety-related hospital deaths in England to identify patterns of cases where improvements might be possible.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Hospital mortality is increasingly being regarded as a key indicator of patient safety, yet methodologies for assessing mortality are frequently contested and seldom point directly to areas of risk and solutions. The aim of our study was to classify reports of deaths due to unsafe care into broad areas of systemic failure capable of being addressed by stronger policies, procedures, and practices. The deaths were reported to a patient safety incident reporting system after mandatory reporting of such incidents was introduced.
Methods and Findings
The UK National Health Service database was searched for incidents resulting in a reported death of an adult over the period of the study. The study population comprised 2,010 incidents involving patients aged 16 y and over in acute hospital settings. Each incident report was reviewed by two of the authors, and, by scrutinising the structured information together with the free text, a main reason for the harm was identified and recorded as one of 18 incident types. These incident types were then aggregated into six areas of apparent systemic failure: mismanagement of deterioration (35%), failure of prevention (26%), deficient checking and oversight (11%), dysfunctional patient flow (10%), equipment-related errors (6%), and other (12%). The most common incident types were failure to act on or recognise deterioration (23%), inpatient falls (10%), healthcare-associated infections (10%), unexpected per-operative death (6%), and poor or inadequate handover (5%). Analysis of these 2,010 fatal incidents reveals patterns of issues that point to actionable areas for improvement.
Conclusions
Our approach demonstrates the potential utility of patient safety incident reports in identifying areas of service failure and highlights opportunities for corrective action to save lives.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Being admitted to the hospital is worrying for patients and for their relatives. Will the patient recover or die in the hospital? Some seriously ill patients will inevitably die, but in an ideal world, no one should die in the hospital because of inadequate or unsafe care (an avoidable death). No one should die, for example, because healthcare professionals fail to act on signs that indicate a decline in a patient's clinical condition. Hospital mortality (death) is often regarded as a key indicator of patient safety in hospitals, and death rate indicators such as the “hospital standardized mortality ratio” (the ratio of the actual number of acute in-hospital deaths to the expected number of in-hospital deaths) are widely used to monitor and improve hospital safety standards. In England, for example, a 2012 report that included this measure as an indicator of hospital performance led to headlines of “worryingly high” hospital death rates and to a review of the quality of care in the hospitals with the highest death rates.
Why Was This Study Done?
Hospital standardized mortality ratios and other measures of in-patient mortality can be misleading because they can, for example, reflect the burden of disease near the hospital rather than the hospital's quality of care or safety levels. Moreover, comparative data on hospital mortality rates are of limited value in identifying areas of risk to patients or solutions to the problem of avoidable deaths. In this study, to identify areas of service failure amenable to improvement through strengthened clinical policies, procedures, and practices, the researchers undertake a thematic analysis of deaths in hospitals in England that were reported by healthcare staff to a mandatory patient-safety-related incident reporting system. Since 2004, staff in the UK National Health Service (the NHS comprises the publicly funded healthcare systems in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) have been encouraged to report any unintended or unexpected incident in which they believe a patient's safety was compromised. Since June 2010, it has been mandatory for staff in England and Wales to report deaths due to patient-safety-related incidents. A thematic analysis examines patterns (“themes”) within nonnumerical (qualitative) data.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
By searching the NHS database of patient-safety-related incidents, the researchers identified 2010 incidents that occurred between 1 June 2010 and 31 October 2012 that resulted in the death of adult patients in acute hospital settings. By scrutinizing the structured information in each incident report and the associated free text in which the reporter described what happened and why they think it happened, the researchers classified the reports into 18 incident categories. These categories fell into six broad areas of systemic failure—mismanagement of deterioration (35% of incidents), failure of prevention (26%), deficient checking and oversight (11%), dysfunctional patient flow (10%), equipment-related errors (6%), and other (12%, incidents where the problem underlying death was unclear). Management of deterioration, for example, included the incident categories “failure to act on or recognize deterioration” (23% of reported incidents), “failure to give ordered treatment/support in a timely manner,” and “failure to observe.” Failure of prevention included the incident categories “falls” (10% of reported incidents), “healthcare-associated infections” (also 10% of reported incidents), “pressure sores,” “suicides,” and “deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism.”
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although the accuracy of these findings may be limited by data quality and by other aspects of the study design, they reveal patterns of patient-safety-related deaths in hospitals in England and highlight areas of healthcare that can be targeted for improvement. The finding that the mismanagement of deterioration of acutely ill patients is involved in a third of patient-safety-related deaths identifies an area of particular concern in the NHS and, potentially, in other healthcare systems. One way to reduce deaths associated with the mismanagement of deterioration, suggest the researchers, might be to introduce a standardized early warning score to ensure uniform identification of this population of patients. The researchers also suggest that more effort should be put into designing programs to prevent falls and other incidents and into ensuring that these programs are effectively implemented. More generally, the classification system developed here has the potential to help hospital boards and clinicians identify areas of patient care that require greater scrutiny and intervention and thereby save the lives of many hospital patients.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001667.
The NHS provides information about patient safety, including a definition of a patient safety incident and information on reporting patient safety incidents
The NHS Choices website includes several “Behind the Headlines” articles that discuss patient safety in hospitals, including an article that discusses the 2012 report of high hospital death rates in England, “Fit for the Future?” and another that discusses the Keogh review of the quality of care in the hospitals with highest death rates
The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides information on patient safety in the US
Wikipedia has pages on thematic analysis and on patient safety (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001667
PMCID: PMC4068985  PMID: 24959751
20.  Designing fault-tolerant distributed archives for picture archiving and communication systems 
Journal of Digital Imaging  2001;14(Suppl 1):80-83.
Purpose: Distributed archives in a picture archiving and communication system (PACS) environment can provide added fault tolerance and fail-over capability, as well as increased load capacity at a more economical price than traditional “high-availability” systems. Systems can be configured with varying levels of fault tolerance, depending on the amountof redundancy desired. There is, however, a direct correlation between the level of hardware redundancy and cost to implement. This presentation details the system design for fault-tolerant distributed archives as well as several options for redundancy, referencing implementation of a fault-tolerant archivesystem at the University of Utah.Methods: The distributed archive system described here is based on Image Devices’ image archive software, which can be implemented on multiple individual archive servers in order to distribute archive functionality and operational load. The configuration and implementation of the individual servers together make up the distributed archive system and does not impact the ability of the system to be scaled to meet future requirements. Several implementation and configuration options exist, including the ability for servers to maintain replicated databases containing pateintand image information. Thus, each archive can be aware of all information and the location of this information within the distributed archive system.Results: The goal is to produce systems that will still be operational in the event of any single point of failure, ie, a network connection failure between facilities or the failure of asingle archive server within the distributed system. During normal operation, workload forimage acquisition, image routing and image query requests will be distributed between the archive servers. If the system is deployed in a multifacility environment, each archive server can be configured to be responsible for the acquisition and image distribution management within that server’s localfacility. If the system is deployed in a single facility environment, load can be distributed evenly between the archive servers based on an understanding of the workload requirements generated be each acquisition and display device in the system. In the event that an archive server fails, other archive servers within the system will have the ability to provide redundancy employed. Three levels of fault-tolerant design can be achieved with this system architecture: (1) duplicate work capability only; (2) duplicate work capability and short-term image cache; (3) duplicate work capability,short-term image cache, and long-term image archival. Using the basic fault-tolerant design above, we have implemented a multifacility distributedarchive system at the University of Utah. This system was implemented at a fraction of the cost of true “high-availability” archive architectures yet provides constant up time for the PACS system. If the network connection between thetwo locations goes down, each siteis still fully functional for soft-copy read, as well as image acquisition and distribution. If either of the archiveservers goes down, the image sources are redirected to the other archive server. The operational server then handles image distribution for both locations. Access to images in the short-term image cache is available to both archive servers and is not affected by loss of the network connection or remoteserver. Because there is ony one long-term archivedevice, the ability to retrieve images from long-term storage is theonly function compromised by a network or server failure.Conclusion: By implementing distributed archives in a PACS environment, it is possible to achieve a highly fault-tolerant system without the expense of high-availability hardware and software. The design concepts outlined here can be applied to any PACS system that supports distributed archive functionality.
doi:10.1007/BF03190303
PMCID: PMC3452698  PMID: 11442129
21.  Lessons Learned from Development of De-identification System for Biomedical Research in a Korean Tertiary Hospital 
Healthcare Informatics Research  2013;19(2):102-109.
Objectives
The Korean government has enacted two laws, namely, the Personal Information Protection Act and the Bioethics and Safety Act to prevent the unauthorized use of medical information. To protect patients' privacy by complying with governmental regulations and improve the convenience of research, Asan Medical Center has been developing a de-identification system for biomedical research.
Methods
We reviewed Korean regulations to define the scope of the de-identification methods and well-known previous biomedical research platforms to extract the functionalities of the systems. Based on these review results, we implemented necessary programs based on the Asan Medical Center Information System framework which was built using the Microsoft. NET Framework and C#.
Results
The developed de-identification system comprises three main components: a de-identification tool, a search tool, and a chart review tool. The de-identification tool can substitute a randomly assigned research ID for a hospital patient ID, remove the identifiers in the structured format, and mask them in the unstructured format, i.e., texts. This tool achieved 98.14% precision and 97.39% recall for 6,520 clinical notes. The search tool can find the number of patients which satisfies given search criteria. The chart review tool can provide de-identified patient's clinical data for review purposes.
Conclusions
We found that a clinical data warehouse was essential for successful implementation of the de-identification system, and this system should be tightly linked to an electronic Institutional Review Board system for easy operation of honest brokers. Additionally, we found that a secure cloud environment could be adopted to protect patients' privacy more thoroughly.
doi:10.4258/hir.2013.19.2.102
PMCID: PMC3717433  PMID: 23882415
Access to Information; Information Systems; Research Design; Research Ethics; Biomedical Research
22.  A review of radio frequency identification technology for the anatomic pathology or biorepository laboratory: Much promise, some progress, and more work needed 
Patient safety initiatives throughout the anatomic laboratory and in biorepository laboratories have mandated increasing emphasis on the need for accurately identifying and tracking biospecimen assets throughout their production lifecycle and for archiving/retrieval purposes. However, increasing production volume along with complex workflow characteristics, reliance on manual production processes, and required asset movement to disparate destinations throughout asset lifecycles continue to challenge laboratory efforts. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, use of radio waves to communicate data between electronic tags attached to objects and a reader, shows significant potential to facilitate and overcome these hurdles. Advantages over traditional barcode labeling include readability without direct line-of-sight alignment to the reader, ability to read multiple tags simultaneously, higher data storage capacity, faster data transmission rate, and capacity to perform multiple read-writes of data to the tag. Most importantly, use of radio waves decreases the need to manually scan each asset, and at each step, identification or tracking event is needed. Temperature monitoring by on-board sensors and three-dimensional position tracking are additional potential benefits of using RFID technology. To date, barriers to implementation of RFID systems in the anatomic laboratory include increased associated costs of tags and readers, system software, data security concerns, lack of specific data standards for stored information, and potential for technological obsolescence during decades of specimen storage. Novel RFID production techniques and increased production capacity are projected to lower costs of some tags to a few cents each. Potentially, information security concerns can be addressed by techniques such as shielding, data encryption, and tag pseudonyms. Commitment by stakeholder groups to develop RFID tag data standards for anatomic pathology and biorepository laboratories could avoid or mitigate the “islands of data” dilemma presented by barcode usage where there are innumerable standards and a consequent paucity of hardware or software “plug and play” interoperability. Work remains to be done to establish the durability and appropriate shielding of individual tag types for use in harsh laboratory environmental conditions, and for long-term archival storage. Finally, given the requirements for long-term storage of biospecimen assets, consideration should be given to ways of mitigating data isolation due to eventual technological obsolescence of a particular RFID technology or software.
doi:10.4103/2153-3539.83738
PMCID: PMC3162748  PMID: 21886890
Challenges; implementation; radio frequency identification tags; standards
23.  Internet-Based Device-Assisted Remote Monitoring of Cardiovascular Implantable Electronic Devices 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of this Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) report was to conduct a systematic review of the available published evidence on the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted remote monitoring systems (RMSs) for therapeutic cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) such as pacemakers (PMs), implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. The MAS evidence-based review was performed to support public financing decisions.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a major cause of fatalities in developed countries. In the United States almost half a million people die of SCD annually, resulting in more deaths than stroke, lung cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined. In Canada each year more than 40,000 people die from a cardiovascular related cause; approximately half of these deaths are attributable to SCD.
Most cases of SCD occur in the general population typically in those without a known history of heart disease. Most SCDs are caused by cardiac arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm caused by malfunctions of the heart’s electrical system. Up to half of patients with significant heart failure (HF) also have advanced conduction abnormalities.
Cardiac arrhythmias are managed by a variety of drugs, ablative procedures, and therapeutic CIEDs. The range of CIEDs includes pacemakers (PMs), implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. Bradycardia is the main indication for PMs and individuals at high risk for SCD are often treated by ICDs.
Heart failure (HF) is also a significant health problem and is the most frequent cause of hospitalization in those over 65 years of age. Patients with moderate to severe HF may also have cardiac arrhythmias, although the cause may be related more to heart pump or haemodynamic failure. The presence of HF, however, increases the risk of SCD five-fold, regardless of aetiology. Patients with HF who remain highly symptomatic despite optimal drug therapy are sometimes also treated with CRT devices.
With an increasing prevalence of age-related conditions such as chronic HF and the expanding indications for ICD therapy, the rate of ICD placement has been dramatically increasing. The appropriate indications for ICD placement, as well as the rate of ICD placement, are increasingly an issue. In the United States, after the introduction of expanded coverage of ICDs, a national ICD registry was created in 2005 to track these devices. A recent survey based on this national ICD registry reported that 22.5% (25,145) of patients had received a non-evidence based ICD and that these patients experienced significantly higher in-hospital mortality and post-procedural complications.
In addition to the increased ICD device placement and the upfront device costs, there is the need for lifelong follow-up or surveillance, placing a significant burden on patients and device clinics. In 2007, over 1.6 million CIEDs were implanted in Europe and the United States, which translates to over 5.5 million patient encounters per year if the recommended follow-up practices are considered. A safe and effective RMS could potentially improve the efficiency of long-term follow-up of patients and their CIEDs.
Technology
In addition to being therapeutic devices, CIEDs have extensive diagnostic abilities. All CIEDs can be interrogated and reprogrammed during an in-clinic visit using an inductive programming wand. Remote monitoring would allow patients to transmit information recorded in their devices from the comfort of their own homes. Currently most ICD devices also have the potential to be remotely monitored. Remote monitoring (RM) can be used to check system integrity, to alert on arrhythmic episodes, and to potentially replace in-clinic follow-ups and manage disease remotely. They do not currently have the capability of being reprogrammed remotely, although this feature is being tested in pilot settings.
Every RMS is specifically designed by a manufacturer for their cardiac implant devices. For Internet-based device-assisted RMSs, this customization includes details such as web application, multiplatform sensors, custom algorithms, programming information, and types and methods of alerting patients and/or physicians. The addition of peripherals for monitoring weight and pressure or communicating with patients through the onsite communicators also varies by manufacturer. Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs are intended to function as a surveillance system rather than an emergency system.
Health care providers therefore need to learn each application, and as more than one application may be used at one site, multiple applications may need to be reviewed for alarms. All RMSs deliver system integrity alerting; however, some systems seem to be better geared to fast arrhythmic alerting, whereas other systems appear to be more intended for remote follow-up or supplemental remote disease management. The different RMSs may therefore have different impacts on workflow organization because of their varying frequency of interrogation and methods of alerts. The integration of these proprietary RM web-based registry systems with hospital-based electronic health record systems has so far not been commonly implemented.
Currently there are 2 general types of RMSs: those that transmit device diagnostic information automatically and without patient assistance to secure Internet-based registry systems, and those that require patient assistance to transmit information. Both systems employ the use of preprogrammed alerts that are either transmitted automatically or at regular scheduled intervals to patients and/or physicians.
The current web applications, programming, and registry systems differ greatly between the manufacturers of transmitting cardiac devices. In Canada there are currently 4 manufacturers—Medtronic Inc., Biotronik, Boston Scientific Corp., and St Jude Medical Inc.—which have regulatory approval for remote transmitting CIEDs. Remote monitoring systems are proprietary to the manufacturer of the implant device. An RMS for one device will not work with another device, and the RMS may not work with all versions of the manufacturer’s devices.
All Internet-based device-assisted RMSs have common components. The implanted device is equipped with a micro-antenna that communicates with a small external device (at bedside or wearable) commonly known as the transmitter. Transmitters are able to interrogate programmed parameters and diagnostic data stored in the patients’ implant device. The information transfer to the communicator can occur at preset time intervals with the participation of the patient (waving a wand over the device) or it can be sent automatically (wirelessly) without their participation. The encrypted data are then uploaded to an Internet-based database on a secure central server. The data processing facilities at the central database, depending on the clinical urgency, can trigger an alert for the physician(s) that can be sent via email, fax, text message, or phone. The details are also posted on the secure website for viewing by the physician (or their delegate) at their convenience.
Research Questions
The research directions and specific research questions for this evidence review were as follows:
To identify the Internet-based device-assisted RMSs available for follow-up of patients with therapeutic CIEDs such as PMs, ICDs, and CRT devices.
To identify the potential risks, operational issues, or organizational issues related to Internet-based device-assisted RM for CIEDs.
To evaluate the safety, acceptability, and effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs such as PMs, ICDs, and CRT devices.
To evaluate the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs compared to usual outpatient in-office monitoring strategies.
To evaluate the resource implications or budget impact of RMSs for CIEDs in Ontario, Canada.
Research Methods
Literature Search
The review included a systematic review of published scientific literature and consultations with experts and manufacturers of all 4 approved RMSs for CIEDs in Canada. Information on CIED cardiac implant clinics was also obtained from Provincial Programs, a division within the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care with a mandate for cardiac implant specialty care. Various administrative databases and registries were used to outline the current clinical follow-up burden of CIEDs in Ontario. The provincial population-based ICD database developed and maintained by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) was used to review the current follow-up practices with Ontario patients implanted with ICD devices.
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on September 21, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from 1950 to September 2010. Search alerts were generated and reviewed for additional relevant literature until December 31, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search.
Inclusion Criteria
published between 1950 and September 2010;
English language full-reports and human studies;
original reports including clinical evaluations of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs in clinical settings;
reports including standardized measurements on outcome events such as technical success, safety, effectiveness, cost, measures of health care utilization, morbidity, mortality, quality of life or patient satisfaction;
randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analyses, cohort and controlled clinical studies.
Exclusion Criteria
non-systematic reviews, letters, comments and editorials;
reports not involving standardized outcome events;
clinical reports not involving Internet-based device assisted RM systems for CIEDs in clinical settings;
reports involving studies testing or validating algorithms without RM;
studies with small samples (<10 subjects).
Outcomes of Interest
The outcomes of interest included: technical outcomes, emergency department visits, complications, major adverse events, symptoms, hospital admissions, clinic visits (scheduled and/or unscheduled), survival, morbidity (disease progression, stroke, etc.), patient satisfaction, and quality of life.
Summary of Findings
The MAS evidence review was performed to review available evidence on Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs published until September 2010. The search identified 6 systematic reviews, 7 randomized controlled trials, and 19 reports for 16 cohort studies—3 of these being registry-based and 4 being multi-centered. The evidence is summarized in the 3 sections that follow.
1. Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems of CIEDs for Cardiac Arrhythmia and Device Functioning
In total, 15 reports on 13 cohort studies involving investigations with 4 different RMSs for CIEDs in cardiology implant clinic groups were identified in the review. The 4 RMSs were: Care Link Network® (Medtronic Inc,, Minneapolis, MN, USA); Home Monitoring® (Biotronic, Berlin, Germany); House Call 11® (St Jude Medical Inc., St Pauls, MN, USA); and a manufacturer-independent RMS. Eight of these reports were with the Home Monitoring® RMS (12,949 patients), 3 were with the Care Link® RMS (167 patients), 1 was with the House Call 11® RMS (124 patients), and 1 was with a manufacturer-independent RMS (44 patients). All of the studies, except for 2 in the United States, (1 with Home Monitoring® and 1 with House Call 11®), were performed in European countries.
The RMSs in the studies were evaluated with different cardiac implant device populations: ICDs only (6 studies), ICD and CRT devices (3 studies), PM and ICD and CRT devices (4 studies), and PMs only (2 studies). The patient populations were predominately male (range, 52%–87%) in all studies, with mean ages ranging from 58 to 76 years. One study population was unique in that RMSs were evaluated for ICDs implanted solely for primary prevention in young patients (mean age, 44 years) with Brugada syndrome, which carries an inherited increased genetic risk for sudden heart attack in young adults.
Most of the cohort studies reported on the feasibility of RMSs in clinical settings with limited follow-up. In the short follow-up periods of the studies, the majority of the events were related to detection of medical events rather than system configuration or device abnormalities. The results of the studies are summarized below:
The interrogation of devices on the web platform, both for continuous and scheduled transmissions, was significantly quicker with remote follow-up, both for nurses and physicians.
In a case-control study focusing on a Brugada population–based registry with patients followed-up remotely, there were significantly fewer outpatient visits and greater detection of inappropriate shocks. One death occurred in the control group not followed remotely and post-mortem analysis indicated early signs of lead failure prior to the event.
Two studies examined the role of RMSs in following ICD leads under regulatory advisory in a European clinical setting and noted:
– Fewer inappropriate shocks were administered in the RM group.
– Urgent in-office interrogations and surgical revisions were performed within 12 days of remote alerts.
– No signs of lead fracture were detected at in-office follow-up; all were detected at remote follow-up.
Only 1 study reported evaluating quality of life in patients followed up remotely at 3 and 6 months; no values were reported.
Patient satisfaction was evaluated in 5 cohort studies, all in short term follow-up: 1 for the Home Monitoring® RMS, 3 for the Care Link® RMS, and 1 for the House Call 11® RMS.
– Patients reported receiving a sense of security from the transmitter, a good relationship with nurses and physicians, positive implications for their health, and satisfaction with RM and organization of services.
– Although patients reported that the system was easy to implement and required less than 10 minutes to transmit information, a variable proportion of patients (range, 9% 39%) reported that they needed the assistance of a caregiver for their transmission.
– The majority of patients would recommend RM to other ICD patients.
– Patients with hearing or other physical or mental conditions hindering the use of the system were excluded from studies, but the frequency of this was not reported.
Physician satisfaction was evaluated in 3 studies, all with the Care Link® RMS:
– Physicians reported an ease of use and high satisfaction with a generally short-term use of the RMS.
– Physicians reported being able to address the problems in unscheduled patient transmissions or physician initiated transmissions remotely, and were able to handle the majority of the troubleshooting calls remotely.
– Both nurses and physicians reported a high level of satisfaction with the web registry system.
2. Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems in Heart Failure Patients for Cardiac Arrhythmia and Heart Failure Episodes
Remote follow-up of HF patients implanted with ICD or CRT devices, generally managed in specialized HF clinics, was evaluated in 3 cohort studies: 1 involved the Home Monitoring® RMS and 2 involved the Care Link® RMS. In these RMSs, in addition to the standard diagnostic features, the cardiac devices continuously assess other variables such as patient activity, mean heart rate, and heart rate variability. Intra-thoracic impedance, a proxy measure for lung fluid overload, was also measured in the Care Link® studies. The overall diagnostic performance of these measures cannot be evaluated, as the information was not reported for patients who did not experience intra-thoracic impedance threshold crossings or did not undergo interventions. The trial results involved descriptive information on transmissions and alerts in patients experiencing high morbidity and hospitalization in the short study periods.
3. Comparative Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems for CIEDs
Seven RCTs were identified evaluating RMSs for CIEDs: 2 were for PMs (1276 patients) and 5 were for ICD/CRT devices (3733 patients). Studies performed in the clinical setting in the United States involved both the Care Link® RMS and the Home Monitoring® RMS, whereas all studies performed in European countries involved only the Home Monitoring® RMS.
3A. Randomized Controlled Trials of Remote Monitoring Systems for Pacemakers
Two trials, both multicenter RCTs, were conducted in different countries with different RMSs and study objectives. The PREFER trial was a large trial (897 patients) performed in the United States examining the ability of Care Link®, an Internet-based remote PM interrogation system, to detect clinically actionable events (CAEs) sooner than the current in-office follow-up supplemented with transtelephonic monitoring transmissions, a limited form of remote device interrogation. The trial results are summarized below:
In the 375-day mean follow-up, 382 patients were identified with at least 1 CAE—111 patients in the control arm and 271 in the remote arm.
The event rate detected per patient for every type of CAE, except for loss of atrial capture, was higher in the remote arm than the control arm.
The median time to first detection of CAEs (4.9 vs. 6.3 months) was significantly shorter in the RMS group compared to the control group (P < 0.0001).
Additionally, only 2% (3/190) of the CAEs in the control arm were detected during a transtelephonic monitoring transmission (the rest were detected at in-office follow-ups), whereas 66% (446/676) of the CAEs were detected during remote interrogation.
The second study, the OEDIPE trial, was a smaller trial (379 patients) performed in France evaluating the ability of the Home Monitoring® RMS to shorten PM post-operative hospitalization while preserving the safety of conventional management of longer hospital stays.
Implementation and operationalization of the RMS was reported to be successful in 91% (346/379) of the patients and represented 8144 transmissions.
In the RM group 6.5% of patients failed to send messages (10 due to improper use of the transmitter, 2 with unmanageable stress). Of the 172 patients transmitting, 108 patients sent a total of 167 warnings during the trial, with a greater proportion of warnings being attributed to medical rather than technical causes.
Forty percent had no warning message transmission and among these, 6 patients experienced a major adverse event and 1 patient experienced a non-major adverse event. Of the 6 patients having a major adverse event, 5 contacted their physician.
The mean medical reaction time was faster in the RM group (6.5 ± 7.6 days vs. 11.4 ± 11.6 days).
The mean duration of hospitalization was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) for the RM group than the control group (3.2 ± 3.2 days vs. 4.8 ± 3.7 days).
Quality of life estimates by the SF-36 questionnaire were similar for the 2 groups at 1-month follow-up.
3B. Randomized Controlled Trials Evaluating Remote Monitoring Systems for ICD or CRT Devices
The 5 studies evaluating the impact of RMSs with ICD/CRT devices were conducted in the United States and in European countries and involved 2 RMSs—Care Link® and Home Monitoring ®. The objectives of the trials varied and 3 of the trials were smaller pilot investigations.
The first of the smaller studies (151 patients) evaluated patient satisfaction, achievement of patient outcomes, and the cost-effectiveness of the Care Link® RMS compared to quarterly in-office device interrogations with 1-year follow-up.
Individual outcomes such as hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and unscheduled clinic visits were not significantly different between the study groups.
Except for a significantly higher detection of atrial fibrillation in the RM group, data on ICD detection and therapy were similar in the study groups.
Health-related quality of life evaluated by the EuroQoL at 6-month or 12-month follow-up was not different between study groups.
Patients were more satisfied with their ICD care in the clinic follow-up group than in the remote follow-up group at 6-month follow-up, but were equally satisfied at 12- month follow-up.
The second small pilot trial (20 patients) examined the impact of RM follow-up with the House Call 11® system on work schedules and cost savings in patients randomized to 2 study arms varying in the degree of remote follow-up.
The total time including device interrogation, transmission time, data analysis, and physician time required was significantly shorter for the RM follow-up group.
The in-clinic waiting time was eliminated for patients in the RM follow-up group.
The physician talk time was significantly reduced in the RM follow-up group (P < 0.05).
The time for the actual device interrogation did not differ in the study groups.
The third small trial (115 patients) examined the impact of RM with the Home Monitoring® system compared to scheduled trimonthly in-clinic visits on the number of unplanned visits, total costs, health-related quality of life (SF-36), and overall mortality.
There was a 63.2% reduction in in-office visits in the RM group.
Hospitalizations or overall mortality (values not stated) were not significantly different between the study groups.
Patient-induced visits were higher in the RM group than the in-clinic follow-up group.
The TRUST Trial
The TRUST trial was a large multicenter RCT conducted at 102 centers in the United States involving the Home Monitoring® RMS for ICD devices for 1450 patients. The primary objectives of the trial were to determine if remote follow-up could be safely substituted for in-office clinic follow-up (3 in-office visits replaced) and still enable earlier physician detection of clinically actionable events.
Adherence to the protocol follow-up schedule was significantly higher in the RM group than the in-office follow-up group (93.5% vs. 88.7%, P < 0.001).
Actionability of trimonthly scheduled checks was low (6.6%) in both study groups. Overall, actionable causes were reprogramming (76.2%), medication changes (24.8%), and lead/system revisions (4%), and these were not different between the 2 study groups.
The overall mean number of in-clinic and hospital visits was significantly lower in the RM group than the in-office follow-up group (2.1 per patient-year vs. 3.8 per patient-year, P < 0.001), representing a 45% visit reduction at 12 months.
The median time from onset of first arrhythmia to physician evaluation was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) in the RM group than in the in-office follow-up group for all arrhythmias (1 day vs. 35.5 days).
The median time to detect clinically asymptomatic arrhythmia events—atrial fibrillation (AF), ventricular fibrillation (VF), ventricular tachycardia (VT), and supra-ventricular tachycardia (SVT)—was also significantly shorter (P < 0.001) in the RM group compared to the in-office follow-up group (1 day vs. 41.5 days) and was significantly quicker for each of the clinical arrhythmia events—AF (5.5 days vs. 40 days), VT (1 day vs. 28 days), VF (1 day vs. 36 days), and SVT (2 days vs. 39 days).
System-related problems occurred infrequently in both groups—in 1.5% of patients (14/908) in the RM group and in 0.7% of patients (3/432) in the in-office follow-up group.
The overall adverse event rate over 12 months was not significantly different between the 2 groups and individual adverse events were also not significantly different between the RM group and the in-office follow-up group: death (3.4% vs. 4.9%), stroke (0.3% vs. 1.2%), and surgical intervention (6.6% vs. 4.9%), respectively.
The 12-month cumulative survival was 96.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 95.5%–97.6%) in the RM group and 94.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 91.8%–96.6%) in the in-office follow-up group, and was not significantly different between the 2 groups (P = 0.174).
The CONNECT Trial
The CONNECT trial, another major multicenter RCT, involved the Care Link® RMS for ICD/CRT devices in a15-month follow-up study of 1,997 patients at 133 sites in the United States. The primary objective of the trial was to determine whether automatically transmitted physician alerts decreased the time from the occurrence of clinically relevant events to medical decisions. The trial results are summarized below:
Of the 575 clinical alerts sent in the study, 246 did not trigger an automatic physician alert. Transmission failures were related to technical issues such as the alert not being programmed or not being reset, and/or a variety of patient factors such as not being at home and the monitor not being plugged in or set up.
The overall mean time from the clinically relevant event to the clinical decision was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) by 17.4 days in the remote follow-up group (4.6 days for 172 patients) than the in-office follow-up group (22 days for 145 patients).
– The median time to a clinical decision was shorter in the remote follow-up group than in the in-office follow-up group for an AT/AF burden greater than or equal to 12 hours (3 days vs. 24 days) and a fast VF rate greater than or equal to 120 beats per minute (4 days vs. 23 days).
Although infrequent, similar low numbers of events involving low battery and VF detection/therapy turned off were noted in both groups. More alerts, however, were noted for out-of-range lead impedance in the RM group (18 vs. 6 patients), and the time to detect these critical events was significantly shorter in the RM group (same day vs. 17 days).
Total in-office clinic visits were reduced by 38% from 6.27 visits per patient-year in the in-office follow-up group to 3.29 visits per patient-year in the remote follow-up group.
Health care utilization visits (N = 6,227) that included cardiovascular-related hospitalization, emergency department visits, and unscheduled clinic visits were not significantly higher in the remote follow-up group.
The overall mean length of hospitalization was significantly shorter (P = 0.002) for those in the remote follow-up group (3.3 days vs. 4.0 days) and was shorter both for patients with ICD (3.0 days vs. 3.6 days) and CRT (3.8 days vs. 4.7 days) implants.
The mortality rate between the study arms was not significantly different between the follow-up groups for the ICDs (P = 0.31) or the CRT devices with defribillator (P = 0.46).
Conclusions
There is limited clinical trial information on the effectiveness of RMSs for PMs. However, for RMSs for ICD devices, multiple cohort studies and 2 large multicenter RCTs demonstrated feasibility and significant reductions in in-office clinic follow-ups with RMSs in the first year post implantation. The detection rates of clinically significant events (and asymptomatic events) were higher, and the time to a clinical decision for these events was significantly shorter, in the remote follow-up groups than in the in-office follow-up groups. The earlier detection of clinical events in the remote follow-up groups, however, was not associated with lower morbidity or mortality rates in the 1-year follow-up. The substitution of almost all the first year in-office clinic follow-ups with RM was also not associated with an increased health care utilization such as emergency department visits or hospitalizations.
The follow-up in the trials was generally short-term, up to 1 year, and was a more limited assessment of potential longer term device/lead integrity complications or issues. None of the studies compared the different RMSs, particularly the different RMSs involving patient-scheduled transmissions or automatic transmissions. Patients’ acceptance of and satisfaction with RM were reported to be high, but the impact of RM on patients’ health-related quality of life, particularly the psychological aspects, was not evaluated thoroughly. Patients who are not technologically competent, having hearing or other physical/mental impairments, were identified as potentially disadvantaged with remote surveillance. Cohort studies consistently identified subgroups of patients who preferred in-office follow-up. The evaluation of costs and workflow impact to the health care system were evaluated in European or American clinical settings, and only in a limited way.
Internet-based device-assisted RMSs involve a new approach to monitoring patients, their disease progression, and their CIEDs. Remote monitoring also has the potential to improve the current postmarket surveillance systems of evolving CIEDs and their ongoing hardware and software modifications. At this point, however, there is insufficient information to evaluate the overall impact to the health care system, although the time saving and convenience to patients and physicians associated with a substitution of in-office follow-up by RM is more certain. The broader issues surrounding infrastructure, impacts on existing clinical care systems, and regulatory concerns need to be considered for the implementation of Internet-based RMSs in jurisdictions involving different clinical practices.
PMCID: PMC3377571  PMID: 23074419
24.  Information systems integration in radiology 
Journal of Digital Imaging  1999;12(Suppl 1):218-222.
Advances in information systems and technology in conjunction with outside forces requiring improved reporting are driving sweeping changes in the practice of radiology. In most academic radiology departments, there can be at least five separate information systems in daily use, a clinical picture archiving and communication system (PACS), a hospital information system (HIS), a radiology information system (RIS), a voice-recognition dictation system, and an electronic teaching/research file system. A PACS will have incomplete, incorrect, and inconsistent data if manual data entry is used. Correct routing of studies for diagnostic reporting and clinical review requires accurate information about the study type and the referring physician or service, often not easily entered manually. An HIS is a hospital-wide information system used to access patient information, reports from various services, and billing information. The RIS is typically a system specifically designed to place radiology orders, to receive interpretations, and to prepare bills for patients. Voice-recognition systems automatically transcribe the radiologist’s dictation, eliminating transcription delays. Another system that is needed in a teaching hospital holds images and data for research and education. Integration of diverse systems must be performed to provide the functionality required by an electronic radiology department and the services it supports. Health Level 7 (HL7) and Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) have enabled sharing of data among systems and can be used as the building blocks for truly integrated systems, but the user community and manufacturers need to specify the types of functionality needed to build clinically useful systems. Although technology development has produced the tools for interoperability for clinical and research/educational use, more work needs to be done to define the types of interaction that needs to be performed to realize the potential of these systems.
doi:10.1007/BF03168810
PMCID: PMC3452903  PMID: 10342221
25.  Toward a Fully De-identified Biomedical Information Warehouse 
The Information Warehouse at the Ohio State University Medical Center is a comprehensive repository of business, clinical, and research data from various source systems. Data collected here is a valuable resource that facilitates both translational research and personalized healthcare. The use of such data in research is governed by federal privacy regulations with oversight by the Institutional Review Board. In 2006, the Information Warehouse was recognized by the OSU IRB as an “Honest Broker” of clinical data, providing investigators with de-identified or limited datasets under stipulations contained in a signed data use agreement. In order to streamline this process even further, the Information Warehouse is developing a de-identified data warehouse that is suitable for direct user access through a controlled query tool that is aimed to support both research and education activities. In this paper we report our findings on performance evaluation of different de-identification schemes that may be used to ensure regulatory compliance while also facilitating practical database updating and querying. We also discuss how date-shifting in the de-identification process can impact other data elements such as diagnosis and procedure codes and consider a possible solution to those problems.
PMCID: PMC2815386  PMID: 20351882

Results 1-25 (1522983)