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2/21/2011
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Hitachi Unveils Centralized Clinical Repository

New healthcare information management system digs deep into metadata to improve interoperability and the value of clinical data.

Hitachi Data Systems has rolled out a new information management system that makes better use of metadata, giving healthcare practitioners more patient information in one place.

The Hitachi Clinical Repository, unveiled at the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in Orlando on Monday, transforms raw medical data and images into useful information, independent of its application source. The system creates a metadata repository that gives healthcare providers a consolidated view of all of a patient's relevant information.

Healthcare facilities are dealing with enormous amounts of medical information and images that contain additional underlying metadata. The metadata is stored in a static, proprietary format and is inaccessible to other applications and consequently is unutilized. If healthcare providers can make better use of all this data, they'll be able to make better and faster decisions about patient care, Hitachi said.

The applications hospitals buy tend to be departmental focused—such as PACS (picture archiving and communications systems), as well as lab, and pharmacy systems--and these differing systems create silos of data, said Dave Wilson, senior director of Hitachi's Global Health Solutions Group.

With Hitachi Clinical Repository, when data is created, regardless of the data type or the application it's coming from, HCR captures the metadata and moves it into a central repository. It then makes the metadata accessible to portals and EHRs, so physicians and other clinicians have a longitudinal view of the patient.

"It's much like iTunes and the iTunes store," Wilson said, "when you purchase an album or song, you see suggestions on what other users liked. This complementary information is metadata associated with that album or song. So, in healthcare, that metadata is all of the relevant data about a patient."

When a doctor looks at a diabetic patient's information, Wilson said, "What's important? Eye exam. Blood sugar levels for the last month. What's the patient’s recent circulatory exam like? By using metadata, we're able to drive better decision-making, and through HCR, are taking advantage of all of that data. Often, today's applications miss key components because of incompatibility between the different systems."

HCR accepts multiple data types. It creates and manages the central, integrated metadata repository of patient information using several Hitachi storage technologies: Hitachi Content Platform, Hitachi NAS Platform, and Hitachi Data Discovery Suite.

Unlike vendor neutral archives that focus only on medical images, HCR consolidates all patient data into an EHR or portal, providing a single, unified view. Additional business rules for privacy and security requirements, quality and audit assessments, and governance and workflow processes can be applied to the indexed data for further improvements to patient care.

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