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1.  Use of a health information exchange system in the emergency care of children 
Background
Children may benefit greatly in terms of safety and care coordination from the information sharing promised by health information exchange (HIE). While information exchange capability is a required feature of the certified electronic health record, we known little regarding how this technology is used in general and for pediatric patients specifically.
Methods
Using data from an operational HIE effort in central Texas, we examined the factors associated with actual system usage. The clinical and demographic characteristics of pediatric ED encounters (n = 179,445) were linked to the HIE system user logs. Based on the patterns of HIE system screens accessed by users, we classified each encounter as: no system usage, basic system usage, or novel system usage. Using crossed random effects logistic regression, we modeled the factors associated with basic and novel system usage.
Results
Users accessed the system for 8.7% of encounters. Increasing patient comorbidity was associated with a 5% higher odds of basic usage and 15% higher odds for novel usage. The odds of basic system usage were lower in the face of time constraints and for patients who had not been to that location in the previous 12 months.
Conclusions
HIE systems may be a source to fulfill users' information needs about complex patients. However, time constraints may be a barrier to usage. In addition, results suggest HIE is more likely to be useful to pediatric patients visiting ED repeatedly. This study helps fill an existing gap in the study of technological applications in the care of children and improves knowledge about how HIE systems are utilized.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-78
PMCID: PMC3295672  PMID: 22208182
2.  Extensions to Regret-based Decision Curve Analysis: An application to hospice referral for terminal patients 
Background
Despite the well documented advantages of hospice care, most terminally ill patients do not reap the maximum benefit from hospice services, with the majority of them receiving hospice care either prematurely or delayed. Decision systems to improve the hospice referral process are sorely needed.
Methods
We present a novel theoretical framework that is based on well-established methodologies of prognostication and decision analysis to assist with the hospice referral process for terminally ill patients. We linked the SUPPORT statistical model, widely regarded as one of the most accurate models for prognostication of terminally ill patients, with the recently developed regret based decision curve analysis (regret DCA). We extend the regret DCA methodology to consider harms associated with the prognostication test as well as harms and effects of the management strategies. In order to enable patients and physicians in making these complex decisions in real-time, we developed an easily accessible web-based decision support system available at the point of care.
Results
The web-based decision support system facilitates the hospice referral process in three steps. First, the patient or surrogate is interviewed to elicit his/her personal preferences regarding the continuation of life-sustaining treatment vs. palliative care. Then, regret DCA is employed to identify the best strategy for the particular patient in terms of threshold probability at which he/she is indifferent between continuation of treatment and of hospice referral. Finally, if necessary, the probabilities of survival and death for the particular patient are computed based on the SUPPORT prognostication model and contrasted with the patient's threshold probability. The web-based design of the CDSS enables patients, physicians, and family members to participate in the decision process from anywhere internet access is available.
Conclusions
We present a theoretical framework to facilitate the hospice referral process. Further rigorous clinical evaluation including testing in a prospective randomized controlled trial is required and planned.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-77
PMCID: PMC3305393  PMID: 22196308
3.  The status of IT service management in health care - ITIL® in selected European countries 
Background
Due to the strained financial situation in the healthcare sector, hospitals and other healthcare providers are facing an increasing pressure to improve their efficiency and to reduce costs. These trends challenge health care organizations to introduce innovative information technology (IT) based supportive processes. To guarantee that IT supports the clinical processes perfectly, IT must be managed proactively. However, until now, there is only very few research on IT service management especially on ITIL® implementations in the health care context.
Methods
The current study aims at exploring knowledge about and acceptance of IT service management (especially ITIL®) in hospitals in Austria and its neighboring regions Bavaria (Germany), Slovakia, South Tyrol (Italy) and Switzerland. Therefore highly standardized interviews with the respective head of information technology (CIO, IT manager) were conducted for selected hospitals from the different regions. In total 75 hospitals were interviewed. Data gathered was analyzed using descriptive statistics and where necessary methods of qualitative content analysis.
Results
In most regions, two-thirds or more of the participating IT managers claim to be familiar with the concepts of IT service management and of ITIL®. IT managers expect from ITIL® mostly better IT services, followed by an increased productivity and a reduction of IT cost. But only five hospitals said to have implemented at least parts of ITIL®, and eight hospitals stated to be planning to do this in the next two years. When it comes to ITIL®, Switzerland and Bavaria seem to be ahead of the other countries. There, the highest levels of knowledge, the highest number of implementations or plans of an implementation as well as the highest number of ITIL® certified staff members were observed.
Conclusion
The results collected through this study indicate that the idea of IT services and IT service management is still not widely recognized in hospitals in the countries and regions of the study. It is also indicated that hospitals need further assistance in order to be able to successfully implement ITIL®. Overall, research on IT service management and ITIL® in health care is rare.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-76
PMCID: PMC3276449  PMID: 22189035
4.  Evaluation of an automated safety surveillance system using risk adjusted sequential probability ratio testing 
Background
Automated adverse outcome surveillance tools and methods have potential utility in quality improvement and medical product surveillance activities. Their use for assessing hospital performance on the basis of patient outcomes has received little attention. We compared risk-adjusted sequential probability ratio testing (RA-SPRT) implemented in an automated tool to Massachusetts public reports of 30-day mortality after isolated coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
Methods
A total of 23,020 isolated adult coronary artery bypass surgery admissions performed in Massachusetts hospitals between January 1, 2002 and September 30, 2007 were retrospectively re-evaluated. The RA-SPRT method was implemented within an automated surveillance tool to identify hospital outliers in yearly increments. We used an overall type I error rate of 0.05, an overall type II error rate of 0.10, and a threshold that signaled if the odds of dying 30-days after surgery was at least twice than expected. Annual hospital outlier status, based on the state-reported classification, was considered the gold standard. An event was defined as at least one occurrence of a higher-than-expected hospital mortality rate during a given year.
Results
We examined a total of 83 hospital-year observations. The RA-SPRT method alerted 6 events among three hospitals for 30-day mortality compared with 5 events among two hospitals using the state public reports, yielding a sensitivity of 100% (5/5) and specificity of 98.8% (79/80).
Conclusions
The automated RA-SPRT method performed well, detecting all of the true institutional outliers with a small false positive alerting rate. Such a system could provide confidential automated notification to local institutions in advance of public reporting providing opportunities for earlier quality improvement interventions.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-75
PMCID: PMC3262755  PMID: 22168892
5.  Redesign of a computerized clinical reminder for colorectal cancer screening: a human-computer interaction evaluation 
Background
Based on barriers to the use of computerized clinical decision support (CDS) learned in an earlier field study, we prototyped design enhancements to the Veterans Health Administration's (VHA's) colorectal cancer (CRC) screening clinical reminder to compare against the VHA's current CRC reminder.
Methods
In a controlled simulation experiment, 12 primary care providers (PCPs) used prototypes of the current and redesigned CRC screening reminder in a within-subject comparison. Quantitative measurements were based on a usability survey, workload assessment instrument, and workflow integration survey. We also collected qualitative data on both designs.
Results
Design enhancements to the VHA's existing CRC screening clinical reminder positively impacted aspects of usability and workflow integration but not workload. The qualitative analysis revealed broad support across participants for the design enhancements with specific suggestions for improving the reminder further.
Conclusions
This study demonstrates the value of a human-computer interaction evaluation in informing the redesign of information tools to foster uptake, integration into workflow, and use in clinical practice.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-74
PMCID: PMC3252247  PMID: 22126324
6.  Designing a patient-centered personal health record to promote preventive care 
Background
Evidence-based preventive services offer profound health benefits, yet Americans receive only half of indicated care. A variety of government and specialty society policy initiatives are promoting the adoption of information technologies to engage patients in their care, such as personal health records, but current systems may not utilize the technology's full potential.
Methods
Using a previously described model to make information technology more patient-centered, we developed an interactive preventive health record (IPHR) designed to more deeply engage patients in preventive care and health promotion. We recruited 14 primary care practices to promote the IPHR to all adult patients and sought practice and patient input in designing the IPHR to ensure its usability, salience, and generalizability. The input involved patient usability tests, practice workflow observations, learning collaboratives, and patient feedback. Use of the IPHR was measured using practice appointment and IPHR databases.
Results
The IPHR that emerged from this process generates tailored patient recommendations based on guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and other organizations. It extracts clinical data from the practices' electronic medical record and obtains health risk assessment information from patients. Clinical content is translated and explained in lay language. Recommendations review the benefits and uncertainties of services and possible actions for patients and clinicians. Embedded in recommendations are self management tools, risk calculators, decision aids, and community resources - selected to match patient's clinical circumstances. Within six months, practices had encouraged 14.4% of patients to use the IPHR (ranging from 1.5% to 28.3% across the 14 practices). Practices successfully incorporated the IPHR into workflow, using it to prepare patients for visits, augment health behavior counseling, explain test results, automatically issue patient reminders for overdue services, prompt clinicians about needed services, and formulate personalized prevention plans.
Conclusions
The IPHR demonstrates that a patient-centered personal health record that interfaces with the electronic medical record can give patients a high level of individualized guidance and be successfully adopted by busy primary care practices. Further study and refinement are necessary to make information systems even more patient-centered and to demonstrate their impact on care.
Trial Registration
Clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT00589173
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-73
PMCID: PMC3250934  PMID: 22115059
7.  An online expert network for high quality information on occupational safety and health: cross-sectional study of user satisfaction and impact 
Background
Many people have difficulties finding information on health questions, including occupational safety and health (OSH) issues. One solution to alleviate these difficulties could be to offer questioners free-of-charge, online access to a network of OSH experts who provide tailored, high-quality information. The aim of this study was to assess whether network quality, respectively information quality, as perceived by the questioners, is associated with questioners' overall satisfaction and to explore the impact of the information received on questioners' knowledge, work and work functioning.
Methods
We evaluated the experiences of OSH questioners with the online network ArboAntwoord.com over a two-year period. In this network, approximately 80 qualified experts are available to answer OSH questions. By means of a questionnaire, we assessed questioners' overall satisfaction with the network, whether the network was user-friendly, easily accessible and easy to handle and whether the information provided was complete, applicable and received in a timely manner. The impact of the information on questioners' knowledge, work or work functioning was explored with seven questions. In the study period, 460 unique OSH questioners asked 851 OSH questions. In total, 205 of the 460 questioners completed the questionnaire (response rate 45%).
Results
Of the responders, 71% were satisfied with the ArboAntwoord network. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that the applicability of the information had a positive influence on the questioners' overall satisfaction (OR = 16.0, 95% CI: 7.0-36.4). Also, user friendliness of the network (OR = 3.3, 95% CI: 1.3-8.6) and completeness of the information provided (OR = 3.0, 95% CI: 1.3-6.8) were positively related to the questioners' satisfaction. For 74% of the questioners, the information helped to increase their knowledge and understanding. Overall, 25% of the questioners indicated that the received information improved their work, work functioning or health.
Conclusions
A free-of-charge, online expert network in the field of OSH can be a useful strategy to provide OSH questioners with applicable, complete and timely information that may help improve safety and health at work. This study provides more insight in how to satisfy network questioners and about the potential impact of provided information on OSH.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-72
PMCID: PMC3295706  PMID: 22111587
8.  Impact of computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system on the outcome of critically ill adult patients: a before-after study 
Background
Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems are recommended to improve patient safety and outcomes. However, their effectiveness has been questioned. Our objective was to evaluate the impact of CPOE implementation on the outcome of critically ill patients.
Methods
This was an observational before-after study carried out in a 21-bed medical and surgical intensive care unit (ICU) of a tertiary care center. It included all patients admitted to the ICU in the 24 months pre- and 12 months post-CPOE (Misys®) implementation. Data were extracted from a prospectively collected ICU database and included: demographics, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score, admission diagnosis and comorbid conditions. Outcomes compared in different pre- and post-CPOE periods included: ICU and hospital mortality, duration of mechanical ventilation, and ICU and hospital length of stay. These outcomes were also compared in selected high risk subgroups of patients (age 12-17 years, traumatic brain injury, admission diagnosis of sepsis and admission APACHE II > 23). Multivariate analysis was used to adjust for imbalances in baseline characteristics and selected clinically relevant variables.
Results
There were 1638 and 898 patients admitted to the ICU in the specified pre- and post-CPOE periods, respectively (age = 52 ± 22 vs. 52 ± 21 years, p = 0.74; APACHE II = 24 ± 9 vs. 24 ± 10, p = 0.83). During these periods, there were no differences in ICU (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.98, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.7-1.3) and in hospital mortality (aOR 1.00, 95% CI 0.8-1.3). CPOE implementation was associated with similar duration of mechanical ventilation and of stay in the ICU and hospital. There was no increased mortality or stay in the high risk subgroups after CPOE implementation.
Conclusions
The implementation of CPOE in an adult medical surgical ICU resulted in no improvement in patient outcomes in the immediate phase and up to 12 months after implementation.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-71
PMCID: PMC3248372  PMID: 22098683
Intensive care unit; critical illness; CPOE; safety management; mortality; morbidity
9.  Web-browser encryption of personal health information 
Background
Electronic health records provide access to an unprecedented amount of clinical data for research that can accelerate the development of effective medical practices. However it is important to protect patient confidentiality, as many medical conditions are stigmatized and disclosure could result in personal and/or financial loss.
Results
We describe a system for remote data entry that allows the data that would identify the patient to be encrypted in the web browser of the person entering the data. These data cannot be decrypted on the server by the staff at the data center but can be decrypted by the person entering the data or their delegate. We developed this system to solve a problem that arose in the context of clinical research, but it is applicable in a range of situations where sensitive information is stored and updated in a database and it is necessary to ensure that it cannot be viewed by any except those intentionally given access.
Conclusion
By developing this system, we are able to centralize the collection of some patient data while minimizing the risk that protected health information be made available to study personnel who are not authorized to use it.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-70
PMCID: PMC3276430  PMID: 22073940
10.  Quality of human-computer interaction - results of a national usability survey of hospital-IT in Germany 
Background
Due to the increasing functionality of medical information systems, it is hard to imagine day to day work in hospitals without IT support. Therefore, the design of dialogues between humans and information systems is one of the most important issues to be addressed in health care. This survey presents an analysis of the current quality level of human-computer interaction of healthcare-IT in German hospitals, focused on the users' point of view.
Methods
To evaluate the usability of clinical-IT according to the design principles of EN ISO 9241-10 the IsoMetrics Inventory, an assessment tool, was used. The focus of this paper has been put on suitability for task, training effort and conformity with user expectations, differentiated by information systems. Effectiveness has been evaluated with the focus on interoperability and functionality of different IT systems.
Results
4521 persons from 371 hospitals visited the start page of the study, while 1003 persons from 158 hospitals completed the questionnaire. The results show relevant variations between different information systems.
Conclusions
Specialised information systems with defined functionality received better assessments than clinical information systems in general. This could be attributed to the improved customisation of these specialised systems for specific working environments. The results can be used as reference data for evaluation and benchmarking of human computer engineering in clinical health IT context for future studies.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-69
PMCID: PMC3229438  PMID: 22070880
11.  Successful implementation of new technologies in nursing care: a questionnaire survey of nurse-users 
Background
A growing number of new technologies are becoming available within nursing care that can improve the quality of care, reduce costs, or enhance working conditions. However, such effects can only be achieved if technologies are used as intended. The aim of this study is to gain a better understanding of determinants influencing the success of the introduction of new technologies as perceived by nursing staff.
Methods
The study population is a nationally representative research sample of nursing staff (further referred to as the Nursing Staff Panel), of whom 685 (67%) completed a survey questionnaire about their experiences with recently introduced technologies. Participants were working in Dutch hospitals, psychiatric organizations, care organizations for mentally disabled people, home care organizations, nursing homes or homes for the elderly.
Results
Half of the respondents were confronted with the introduction of a new technology in the last three years. Only half of these rated the introduction of the technology as positive.
The factors most frequently mentioned as impeding actual use were related to the (kind of) technology itself, such as malfunctioning, ease of use, relevance for patients, and risks to patients. Furthermore nursing staff stress the importance of an adequate innovation strategy.
Conclusions
A prerequisite for the successful introduction of new technologies is to analyse determinants that may impede or enhance the introduction among potential users. For technological innovations special attention has to be paid to the (perceived) characteristics of the technology itself.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-67
PMCID: PMC3214145  PMID: 22032728
12.  Towards case-based medical learning in radiological decision making using content-based image retrieval 
Background
Radiologists' training is based on intensive practice and can be improved with the use of diagnostic training systems. However, existing systems typically require laboriously prepared training cases and lack integration into the clinical environment with a proper learning scenario. Consequently, diagnostic training systems advancing decision-making skills are not well established in radiological education.
Methods
We investigated didactic concepts and appraised methods appropriate to the radiology domain, as follows: (i) Adult learning theories stress the importance of work-related practice gained in a team of problem-solvers; (ii) Case-based reasoning (CBR) parallels the human problem-solving process; (iii) Content-based image retrieval (CBIR) can be useful for computer-aided diagnosis (CAD). To overcome the known drawbacks of existing learning systems, we developed the concept of image-based case retrieval for radiological education (IBCR-RE). The IBCR-RE diagnostic training is embedded into a didactic framework based on the Seven Jump approach, which is well established in problem-based learning (PBL). In order to provide a learning environment that is as similar as possible to radiological practice, we have analysed the radiological workflow and environment.
Results
We mapped the IBCR-RE diagnostic training approach into the Image Retrieval in Medical Applications (IRMA) framework, resulting in the proposed concept of the IRMAdiag training application. IRMAdiag makes use of the modular structure of IRMA and comprises (i) the IRMA core, i.e., the IRMA CBIR engine; and (ii) the IRMAcon viewer. We propose embedding IRMAdiag into hospital information technology (IT) infrastructure using the standard protocols Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) and Health Level Seven (HL7). Furthermore, we present a case description and a scheme of planned evaluations to comprehensively assess the system.
Conclusions
The IBCR-RE paradigm incorporates a novel combination of essential aspects of diagnostic learning in radiology: (i) Provision of work-relevant experiences in a training environment integrated into the radiologist's working context; (ii) Up-to-date training cases that do not require cumbersome preparation because they are provided by routinely generated electronic medical records; (iii) Support of the way adults learn while remaining suitable for the patient- and problem-oriented nature of medicine. Future work will address unanswered questions to complete the implementation of the IRMAdiag trainer.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-68
PMCID: PMC3217894  PMID: 22032775
13.  Feasibility test of a UK-scalable electronic system for regular collection of patient-reported outcome measures and linkage with clinical cancer registry data: The electronic Patient-reported Outcomes from Cancer Survivors (ePOCS) system 
Background
Cancer survivors can face significant physical and psychosocial challenges; there is a need to identify and predict which survivors experience what sorts of difficulties. As highlighted in the UK National Cancer Survivorship Initiative, routine post-diagnostic collection of patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) is required; to be most informative, PROMs must be linked and analysed with patients' diagnostic and treatment information. We have designed and built a potentially cost-efficient UK-scalable electronic system for collecting PROMs via the internet, at regular post-diagnostic time-points, for linking these data with patients' clinical data in cancer registries, and for electronically managing the associated patient monitoring and communications; the electronic Patient-reported Outcomes from Cancer Survivors (ePOCS) system. This study aims to test the feasibility of the ePOCS system, by running it for 2 years in two Yorkshire NHS Trusts, and using the Northern and Yorkshire Cancer Registry and Information Service.
Methods/Design
Non-metastatic breast, colorectal and prostate cancer patients (largest survivor groups), within 6 months post-diagnosis, will be recruited from hospitals in the Yorkshire Cancer Network. Participants will be asked to complete PROMS, assessing a range of health-related quality-of-life outcomes, at three time-points up to 15 months post-diagnosis, and subsequently to provide opinion on the ePOCS system via a feedback questionnaire. Feasibility will be examined primarily in terms of patient recruitment and retention rates, the representativeness of participating patients, the quantity and quality of collected PROMs data, patients' feedback, the success and reliability of the underpinning informatics, and the system running costs. If sufficient data are generated during system testing, these will be analysed to assess the health-related quality-of-life outcomes reported by patients, and to explore if and how they relate to disease, treatment and/or individual differences characteristics.
Discussion
There is currently no system in the UK for collecting PROMs online and linking these with patients' clinical data in cancer registries. If feasible, ePOCS has potential to provide an affordable UK-scalable technical platform to facilitate and support longitudinal cohort research, and improve understanding of cancer survivors' experiences. Comprehensive understanding of survivorship difficulties is vital to inform the development and provision of supportive services and interventions.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-66
PMCID: PMC3212976  PMID: 22029686
14.  Translating the foundational model of anatomy into french using knowledge-based and lexical methods 
Background
The Foundational Model of Anatomy (FMA) is the reference ontology regarding human anatomy. FMA vocabulary was integrated into the Health Multi Terminological Portal (HMTP) developed by CISMeF based on the CISMeF Information System which also includes 26 other terminologies and controlled vocabularies, mainly in French. However, FMA is primarily in English. In this context, the translation of FMA English terms into French could also be useful for searching and indexing French anatomy resources. Various studies have investigated automatic methods to assist the translation of medical terminologies or create multilingual medical vocabularies. The goal of this study was to facilitate the translation of FMA vocabulary into French.
Methods
We compare two types of approaches to translate the FMA terms into French. The first one is UMLS-based on the conceptual information of the UMLS metathesaurus. The second method is lexically-based on several Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools.
Results
The UMLS-based approach produced a translation of 3,661 FMA terms into French whereas the lexical approach produced a translation of 3,129 FMA terms into French. A qualitative evaluation was made on 100 FMA terms translated by each method. For the UMLS-based approach, among the 100 translations, 52% were manually rated as "very good" and only 7% translations as "bad". For the lexical approach, among the 100 translations, 47% were rated as "very good" and 20% translations as "bad".
Conclusions
Overall, a low rate of translations were demonstrated by the two methods. The two approaches permitted us to semi-automatically translate 3,776 FMA terms from English into French, this was to added to the existing 10,844 French FMA terms in the HMTP (4,436 FMA French terms and 6,408 FMA terms manually translated).
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-65
PMCID: PMC3266208  PMID: 22029629
15.  Computerized prediction of intensive care unit discharge after cardiac surgery: development and validation of a Gaussian processes model 
Background
The intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (LOS) of patients undergoing cardiac surgery may vary considerably, and is often difficult to predict within the first hours after admission. The early clinical evolution of a cardiac surgery patient might be predictive for his LOS. The purpose of the present study was to develop a predictive model for ICU discharge after non-emergency cardiac surgery, by analyzing the first 4 hours of data in the computerized medical record of these patients with Gaussian processes (GP), a machine learning technique.
Methods
Non-interventional study. Predictive modeling, separate development (n = 461) and validation (n = 499) cohort. GP models were developed to predict the probability of ICU discharge the day after surgery (classification task), and to predict the day of ICU discharge as a discrete variable (regression task). GP predictions were compared with predictions by EuroSCORE, nurses and physicians. The classification task was evaluated using aROC for discrimination, and Brier Score, Brier Score Scaled, and Hosmer-Lemeshow test for calibration. The regression task was evaluated by comparing median actual and predicted discharge, loss penalty function (LPF) ((actual-predicted)/actual) and calculating root mean squared relative errors (RMSRE).
Results
Median (P25-P75) ICU length of stay was 3 (2-5) days. For classification, the GP model showed an aROC of 0.758 which was significantly higher than the predictions by nurses, but not better than EuroSCORE and physicians. The GP had the best calibration, with a Brier Score of 0.179 and Hosmer-Lemeshow p-value of 0.382. For regression, GP had the highest proportion of patients with a correctly predicted day of discharge (40%), which was significantly better than the EuroSCORE (p < 0.001) and nurses (p = 0.044) but equivalent to physicians. GP had the lowest RMSRE (0.408) of all predictive models.
Conclusions
A GP model that uses PDMS data of the first 4 hours after admission in the ICU of scheduled adult cardiac surgery patients was able to predict discharge from the ICU as a classification as well as a regression task. The GP model demonstrated a significantly better discriminative power than the EuroSCORE and the ICU nurses, and at least as good as predictions done by ICU physicians. The GP model was the only well calibrated model.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-64
PMCID: PMC3228706  PMID: 22027016
16.  Practice guidelines and clinical risk assessment models: is it time to reform? 
Background
Clinical practice guidelines and Risk Assessment Models (RAMs) are some useful tools to bring medical evidences into our daily clinical practice. Despite the improvement over the time, they still have some shortcomings.
Discussion
One of these shortcomings is the arbitrary cutoffs used in these tools to facilitate the decision making process. This problem is to some extent due to the "Black or White" approach of modern medicine in making the decisions, whilst in the real world and our daily practice we used mostly an uncertain approach, which is called recently as "Fuzzy" thinking approach.
Summary
The authors of this article believe that the fuzzy type of thinking may resolve the above mentioned shortcomings of clinical practice guideline or risk assessment models and they tried to discuss about this using an example about Venous Thromboembolism related guidelines and RAMs.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-63
PMCID: PMC3210091  PMID: 22008213
Practice guidelines; Risk assessment models; Fuzzy Logic; Venous Thromboembolism
17.  Framework for the impact analysis and implementation of Clinical Prediction Rules (CPRs) 
Clinical Prediction Rules (CPRs) are tools that quantify the contribution of symptoms, clinical signs and available diagnostic tests, and in doing so stratify patients according to the probability of having a target outcome or need for a specified treatment. Most focus on the derivation stage with only a minority progressing to validation and very few undergoing impact analysis. Impact analysis studies remain the most efficient way of assessing whether incorporating CPRs into a decision making process improves patient care. However there is a lack of clear methodology for the design of high quality impact analysis studies.
We have developed a sequential four-phased framework based on the literature and the collective experience of our international working group to help researchers identify and overcome the specific challenges in designing and conducting an impact analysis of a CPR.
There is a need to shift emphasis from deriving new CPRs to validating and implementing existing CPRs. The proposed framework provides a structured approach to this topical and complex area of research.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-62
PMCID: PMC3216240  PMID: 21999201
18.  Detecting referral and selection bias by the anonymous linkage of practice, hospital and clinic data using Secure and Private Record Linkage (SAPREL): case study from the evaluation of the Improved Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) service 
Background
The evaluation of demonstration sites set up to provide improved access to psychological therapies (IAPT) comprised the study of all people identified as having common mental health problems (CMHP), those referred to the IAPT service, and a sample of attenders studied in-depth. Information technology makes it feasible to link practice, hospital and IAPT clinic data to evaluate the representativeness of these samples. However, researchers do not have permission to browse and link these data without the patients' consent.
Objective
To demonstrate the use of a mixed deterministic-probabilistic method of secure and private record linkage (SAPREL) - to describe selection bias in subjects chosen for in-depth evaluation.
Method
We extracted, pseudonymised and used fuzzy logic to link multiple health records without the researcher knowing the patient's identity. The method can be characterised as a three party protocol mainly using deterministic algorithms with dynamic linking strategies; though incorporating some elements of probabilistic linkage. Within the data providers' safe haven we extracted: Demographic data, hospital utilisation and IAPT clinic data; converted post code to index of multiple deprivation (IMD); and identified people with CMHP. We contrasted the age, gender, ethnicity and IMD for the in-depth evaluation sample with people referred to IAPT, use hospital services, and the population as a whole.
Results
The in IAPT-in-depth group had a mean age of 43.1 years; CI: 41.0 - 45.2 (n = 166); the IAPT-referred 40.2 years; CI: 39.4 - 40.9 (n = 1118); and those with CMHP 43.6 years SEM 0.15. (n = 12210). Whilst around 67% of those with a CMHP were women, compared to 70% of those referred to IAPT, and 75% of those subject to in-depth evaluation (Chi square p < 0.001). The mean IMD score for the in-depth evaluation group was 36.6; CI: 34.2 - 38.9; (n = 166); of those referred to IAPT 38.7; CI: 37.9 - 39.6; (n = 1117); and of people with CMHP 37.6; CI 37.3-37.9; (n = 12143).
Conclusions
The sample studied in-depth were older, more likely female, and less deprived than people with CMHP, and fewer had recorded ethnic minority status. Anonymous linkage using SAPREL provides insight into the representativeness of a study population and possible adjustment for selection bias.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-61
PMCID: PMC3204226  PMID: 21995837
19.  Modeling healthcare authorization and claim submissions using the openEHR dual-model approach 
Background
The TISS standard is a set of mandatory forms and electronic messages for healthcare authorization and claim submissions among healthcare plans and providers in Brazil. It is not based on formal models as the new generation of health informatics standards suggests. The objective of this paper is to model the TISS in terms of the openEHR archetype-based approach and integrate it into a patient-centered EHR architecture.
Methods
Three approaches were adopted to model TISS. In the first approach, a set of archetypes was designed using ENTRY subclasses. In the second one, a set of archetypes was designed using exclusively ADMIN_ENTRY and CLUSTERs as their root classes. In the third approach, the openEHR ADMIN_ENTRY is extended with classes designed for authorization and claim submissions, and an ISM_TRANSITION attribute is added to the COMPOSITION class. Another set of archetypes was designed based on this model. For all three approaches, templates were designed to represent the TISS forms.
Results
The archetypes based on the openEHR RM (Reference Model) can represent all TISS data structures. The extended model adds subclasses and an attribute to the COMPOSITION class to represent information on authorization and claim submissions. The archetypes based on all three approaches have similar structures, although rooted in different classes. The extended openEHR RM model is more semantically aligned with the concepts involved in a claim submission, but may disrupt interoperability with other systems and the current tools must be adapted to deal with it.
Conclusions
Modeling the TISS standard by means of the openEHR approach makes it aligned with ISO recommendations and provides a solid foundation on which the TISS can evolve. Although there are few administrative archetypes available, the openEHR RM is expressive enough to represent the TISS standard. This paper focuses on the TISS but its results may be extended to other billing processes. A complete communication architecture to simulate the exchange of TISS data between systems according to the openEHR approach still needs to be designed and implemented.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-60
PMCID: PMC3212910  PMID: 21992670
20.  Development of a tool to improve the quality of decision making in atrial fibrillation 
Background
Decision-making about appropriate therapy to reduce the stroke risk associated with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) involves the consideration of trade-offs among the benefits, risks, and inconveniences of different treatment options. The objective of this paper is to describe the development of a decision support tool for NVAF based on the provision of individualized risk estimates for stroke and bleeding and on preparing patients to communicate with their physicians about their values and potential treatment options.
Methods
We developed a tool based on the principles of the International Patient Decision Aids Standards. The tool focuses on the patient-physician dyad as the decision-making unit and emphasizes improving the interaction between the two. It is built on the recognition that the application of patient values to a specific treatment decision is complex and that the final treatment choice is best made through a process of patient-clinician communication.
Results
The tool provides education incorporating patients ' illness perceptions to explain the relationship between NVAF and stroke, and then presents individualized risk estimates, derived using separate risk calculators for stroke and bleeding over a clinically meaningful time period (5 years) associated with no treatment, aspirin, and warfarin. Sequelae of both stroke and bleeding outcomes are also described. Patients are encouraged to verbalize how they value the incremental risks and benefits associated with each option and write down specific concerns to address with their physician. A physician prompt to encourage patients to discuss their opinions is included as part of the decision support tool. In pilot testing with 11 participants (mean age 78 ± 9 years, 64% with ≤ high-school education), 8 (72%) rated ease of completion as "very easy," and 9 (81%) rated amount of information as "just right."
Conclusions
The risks and benefits of different treatment options for reduction of stroke in NVAF vary widely according to patients' comorbidities. This tool facilitates the provision of individualized outcome data and encourages patients to communicate with their physicians about these risks and benefits. Future studies will examine whether use of the tool is associated with improved quality of decision making.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-59
PMCID: PMC3207873  PMID: 21977943
non-valvular atrial fibrillation; decision support; comorbidity
21.  Architecture of a consent management suite and integration into IHE-based regional health information networks 
Background
The University Hospital Heidelberg is implementing a Regional Health Information Network (RHIN) in the Rhine-Neckar-Region in order to establish a shared-care environment, which is based on established Health IT standards and in particular Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE). Similar to all other Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Personal Health Record (PHR) approaches the chosen Personal Electronic Health Record (PEHR) architecture relies on the patient's consent in order to share documents and medical data with other care delivery organizations, with the additional requirement that the German legislation explicitly demands a patients' opt-in and does not allow opt-out solutions. This creates two issues: firstly the current IHE consent profile does not address this approach properly and secondly none of the employed intra- and inter-institutional information systems, like almost all systems on the market, offers consent management solutions at all. Hence, the objective of our work is to develop and introduce an extensible architecture for creating, managing and querying patient consents in an IHE-based environment.
Methods
Based on the features offered by the IHE profile Basic Patient Privacy Consent (BPPC) and literature, the functionalities and components to meet the requirements of a centralized opt-in consent management solution compliant with German legislation have been analyzed. Two services have been developed and integrated into the Heidelberg PEHR.
Results
The standard-based Consent Management Suite consists of two services. The Consent Management Service is able to receive and store consent documents. It can receive queries concerning a dedicated patient consent, process it and return an answer. It represents a centralized policy enforcement point. The Consent Creator Service allows patients to create their consents electronically. Interfaces to a Master Patient Index (MPI) and a provider index allow to dynamically generate XACML-based policies which are stored in a CDA document to be transferred to the first service. Three workflows have to be considered to integrate the suite into the PEHR: recording the consent, publishing documents and viewing documents.
Conclusions
Our approach solves the consent issue when using IHE profiles for regional health information networks. It is highly interoperable due to the use of international standards and can hence be used in any other region to leverage consent issues and substantially promote the use of IHE for regional health information networks in general.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-58
PMCID: PMC3200153  PMID: 21970788
22.  Methods to identify, study and understand End-user participation in HIT development 
Background
Experience has shown that for new health-information-technology (HIT) to be suc-cessful clinicians must obtain positive clinical benefits as a result of its implementation and joint-ownership of the decisions made during the development process. A prerequisite for achieving both success criteria is real end-user-participation. Experience has also shown that further research into developing improved methods to collect more detailed information on social groups participating in HIT development is needed in order to support, facilitate and improve real end-user participation.
Methods
A case study of an EHR planning-process in a Danish county from October 2003 until April 2006 was conducted using process-analysis. Three social groups (physicians, IT-professionals and administrators) were identified and studied in the local, present perspective. In order to understand the interactions between the three groups, the national, historic perspective was included through a literature-study. Data were collected through observations, interviews, insight gathered from documents and relevant literature.
Results
In the local, present perspective, the administrator's strategy for the EHR planning process meant that there was no clinical workload-reduction. This was seen as one of the main barriers to the physicians to achieving real influence. In the national, historic perspective, physicians and administrators have had/have different perceptions of the purpose of the patient record and they have both struggled to influence this definition. To date, the administrators have won the battle. This explains the conditions made available for the physicians' participation in this case, which led to their role being reduced to that of clinical consultants - rather than real participants.
Conclusion
In HIT-development the interests of and the balance of power between the different social groups involved are decisive in determining whether or not the end-users become real participants in the development process. Real end-user-participation is essential for the successful outcome of the process. By combining and developing existing theories and methods, this paper presents an improved method to collect more detailed information on social groups participating in HIT-development and their interaction during the development. This allows HIT management to explore new avenues during the HIT development process in order to support, facilitate and improve real end-user participation.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-57
PMCID: PMC3196903  PMID: 21955493
23.  Enhanced health event detection and influenza surveillance using a joint Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense biosurveillance application 
Background
The establishment of robust biosurveillance capabilities is an important component of the U.S. strategy for identifying disease outbreaks, environmental exposures and bioterrorism events. Currently, U.S. Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) perform biosurveillance independently. This article describes a joint VA/DoD biosurveillance project at North Chicago-VA Medical Center (NC-VAMC). The Naval Health Clinics-Great Lakes facility physically merged with NC-VAMC beginning in 2006 with the full merger completed in October 2010 at which time all DoD care and medical personnel had relocated to the expanded and remodeled NC-VAMC campus and the combined facility was renamed the Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC). The goal of this study was to evaluate disease surveillance using a biosurveillance application which combined data from both populations.
Methods
A retrospective analysis of NC-VAMC/Lovell FHCC and other Chicago-area VAMC data was performed using the ESSENCE biosurveillance system, including one infectious disease outbreak (Salmonella/Taste of Chicago-July 2007) and one weather event (Heat Wave-July 2006). Influenza-like-illness (ILI) data from these same facilities was compared with CDC/Illinois Sentinel Provider and Cook County ESSENCE data for 2007-2008.
Results
Following consolidation of VA and DoD facilities in North Chicago, median number of visits more than doubled, median patient age dropped and proportion of females rose significantly in comparison with the pre-merger NC-VAMC facility. A high-level gastrointestinal alert was detected in July 2007, but only low-level alerts at other Chicago-area VAMCs. Heat-injury alerts were triggered for the merged facility in June 2006, but not at the other facilities. There was also limited evidence in these events that surveillance of the combined population provided utility above and beyond the VA-only and DoD-only components. Recorded ILI activity for NC-VAMC/Lovell FHCC was more pronounced in the DoD component, likely due to pediatric data in this population. NC-VAMC/Lovell FHCC had two weeks of ILI activity exceeding both the Illinois State and East North Central Regional baselines, whereas Hines VAMC had one and Jesse Brown VAMC had zero.
Conclusions
Biosurveillance in a joint VA/DoD facility showed potential utility as a tool to improve surveillance and situational awareness in an area with Veteran, active duty and beneficiary populations. Based in part on the results of this pilot demonstration, both agencies have agreed to support the creation of a combined VA/DoD ESSENCE biosurveillance system which is now under development.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-56
PMCID: PMC3188469  PMID: 21929813
24.  Evaluating risk factor assumptions: a simulation-based approach 
Background
Microsimulation models are an important tool for estimating the comparative effectiveness of interventions through prediction of individual-level disease outcomes for a hypothetical population. To estimate the effectiveness of interventions targeted toward high risk groups, the mechanism by which risk factors influence the natural history of disease must be specified. We propose a method for evaluating these risk factor assumptions as part of model-building.
Methods
We used simulation studies to examine the impact of risk factor assumptions on the relative rate (RR) of colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality for a cohort with a risk factor compared to a cohort without the risk factor using an extension of the CRC-SPIN model for colorectal cancer. We also compared the impact of changing age at initiation of screening colonoscopy for different risk mechanisms.
Results
Across CRC-specific risk factor mechanisms, the RR of CRC incidence and mortality decreased (towards one) with increasing age. The rate of change in RRs across age groups depended on both the risk factor mechanism and the strength of the risk factor effect. Increased non-CRC mortality attenuated the effect of CRC-specific risk factors on the RR of CRC when both were present. For each risk factor mechanism, earlier initiation of screening resulted in more life years gained, though the magnitude of life years gained varied across risk mechanisms.
Conclusions
Simulation studies can provide insight into both the effect of risk factor assumptions on model predictions and the type of data needed to calibrate risk factor models.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-55
PMCID: PMC3182875  PMID: 21899767
microsimulation; colorectal cancer; comparative effectiveness; screening
25.  Automatic segmentation of meningioma from non-contrasted brain MRI integrating fuzzy clustering and region growing 
Background
In recent years, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become important in brain tumor diagnosis. Using this modality, physicians can locate specific pathologies by analyzing differences in tissue character presented in different types of MR images.
This paper uses an algorithm integrating fuzzy-c-mean (FCM) and region growing techniques for automated tumor image segmentation from patients with menigioma. Only non-contrasted T1 and T2 -weighted MR images are included in the analysis. The study's aims are to correctly locate tumors in the images, and to detect those situated in the midline position of the brain.
Methods
The study used non-contrasted T1- and T2-weighted MR images from 29 patients with menigioma. After FCM clustering, 32 groups of images from each patient group were put through the region-growing procedure for pixels aggregation. Later, using knowledge-based information, the system selected tumor-containing images from these groups and merged them into one tumor image. An alternative semi-supervised method was added at this stage for comparison with the automatic method. Finally, the tumor image was optimized by a morphology operator. Results from automatic segmentation were compared to the "ground truth" (GT) on a pixel level. Overall data were then evaluated using a quantified system.
Results
The quantified parameters, including the "percent match" (PM) and "correlation ratio" (CR), suggested a high match between GT and the present study's system, as well as a fair level of correspondence. The results were compatible with those from other related studies. The system successfully detected all of the tumors situated at the midline of brain.
Six cases failed in the automatic group. One also failed in the semi-supervised alternative. The remaining five cases presented noticeable edema inside the brain. In the 23 successful cases, the PM and CR values in the two groups were highly related.
Conclusions
Results indicated that, even when using only two sets of non-contrasted MR images, the system is a reliable and efficient method of brain-tumor detection. With further development the system demonstrates high potential for practical clinical use.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-54
PMCID: PMC3189096  PMID: 21871082

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