Study: Use of OpenEHR can improve standardization of common data elements

Advanced modeling may be able to apply the OpenEHR archetype to improve data sharing among disparate common data elements (CDEs), according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA).

Clinical research is moving to electronic data capture and e-clinical trials. However, the CDEs, which are used to standardize individual data entry or data fields in electronic health records, have a "poor" level of standardization among different EHR systems, which makes it difficult to harmonize the data and conduct clinical research across multiple institutions.

The researchers, from the National Institutes of Health and the National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan, wanted to address this limitation by exploring the feasibility of applying the OpenEHR approach to CDEs and bridge the gap. The OpenEHR foundation aims to enable the development of open, future-proof specifications and software for EHRs and enable the use and sharing of data.

The researchers developed a semiautomatic mapping tool to assist domain experts mapping of CDEs to existing OpenEHR archetypes to evaluate coverage and the ability to represent CDE content; they used the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke General CDEs to do so.

They found that the mapping tool worked to some extent. Of the 184 CDEs, 81 percent could be covered by existing OpenEHR archetypes. Moreover, 28 percent of the archetypes could be directly used to represent CDEs. However, the lack of standard terminology limited more effective mapping, and 53 percent of the CDEs needed more development.    

"There is considerable work needed with respect to CDEs because more than half of the mapped archetypes need to be modified. ... The preliminary results of the present research can be used as a reference for future development of next generation CDEs," the researchers concluded.

The lack of standardization and interoperability of EHRs has long been a concern. The variability not only undercuts the effectiveness of research, but also can have a negative impact on patient safety. Efforts are being made to enhance data sharing among different EHR users.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract