JOURNAL ARTICLE

Archetype-based conversion of EHR content models: pilot experience with a regional EHR system

Rong Chen, Gunnar O Klein, Erik Sundvall, Daniel Karlsson, Hans Ahlfeldt
BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2009, 9: 33
19570196

BACKGROUND: Exchange of Electronic Health Record (EHR) data between systems from different suppliers is a major challenge. EHR communication based on archetype methodology has been developed by openEHR and CEN/ISO. The experience of using archetypes in deployed EHR systems is quite limited today. Currently deployed EHR systems with large user bases have their own proprietary way of representing clinical content using various models. This study was designed to investigate the feasibility of representing EHR content models from a regional EHR system as openEHR archetypes and inversely to convert archetypes to the proprietary format.

METHODS: The openEHR EHR Reference Model (RM) and Archetype Model (AM) specifications were used. The template model of the Cambio COSMIC, a regional EHR product from Sweden, was analyzed and compared to the openEHR RM and AM. This study was focused on the convertibility of the EHR semantic models. A semantic mapping between the openEHR RM/AM and the COSMIC template model was produced and used as the basis for developing prototype software that performs automated bi-directional conversion between openEHR archetypes and COSMIC templates.

RESULTS: Automated bi-directional conversion between openEHR archetype format and COSMIC template format has been achieved. Several archetypes from the openEHR Clinical Knowledge Repository have been imported into COSMIC, preserving most of the structural and terminology related constraints. COSMIC templates from a large regional installation were successfully converted into the openEHR archetype format. The conversion from the COSMIC templates into archetype format preserves nearly all structural and semantic definitions of the original content models. A strategy of gradually adding archetype support to legacy EHR systems was formulated in order to allow sharing of clinical content models defined using different formats.

CONCLUSION: The openEHR RM and AM are expressive enough to represent the existing clinical content models from the template based EHR system tested and legacy content models can automatically be converted to archetype format for sharing of knowledge. With some limitations, internationally available archetypes could be converted to the legacy EHR models. Archetype support can be added to legacy EHR systems in an incremental way allowing a migration path to interoperability based on standards.

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