Internet patient records: new techniques

Gavin Brelstaff, Sascha Moehrs, Paolo Anedda, Massimiliano Tuveri, Gianluigi Zanetti
J Med Internet Res, Volume 3, Number 1, page E8 - january 2001
BACKGROUND: The ease by which the Internet is able to distribute information to geographically-distant users on a wide variety of computers makes it an obvious candidate for a technological solution for electronic patient record systems. Indeed, second-generation Internet technologies such as the ones described in this article--XML (eXtensible Markup Language), XSL (eXtensible Style Language), DOM (Document Object Model), CSS (Cascading Style Sheet), JavaScript, and JavaBeans--may significantly reduce the complexity of the development of distributed healthcare systems. OBJECTIVE: The demonstration of an experimental Electronic Patient Record (EPR) system built from those technologies that can support viewing of medical imaging exams and graphically-rich clinical reporting tools, while conforming to the newly emerging XML standard for digital documents. In particular, we aim to promote rapid prototyping of new reports by clinical specialists. METHODS: We have built a prototype EPR client, InfoDOM, that runs in both the popular web browsers. In this second version it receives each EPR as an XML record served via the secure SSL (Secure Socket Layer) protocol. JavaBean software components manipulate the XML to store it and then to transform it into a variety of useful clinical views. First a web page summary for the patient is produced. From that web page other JavaBeans can be launched. In particular, we have developed a medical imaging exam Viewer and a clinical Reporter bean parameterized appropriately for the particular patient and exam in question. Both present particular views of the XML data. The Viewer reads image sequences from a patient-specified network URL on a PACS (Picture Archiving and Communications System) server and presents them in a user-controllable animated sequence, while the Reporter provides a configurable anatomical map of the site of the pathology, from which individual 'reportlets' can be launched. The specification of these reportlets is achieved using standard HTML forms and thus may conceivably be authored by clinical specialists. A generic JavaScript library has been written that allows the seamless incorporation of such contributions into the InfoDOM client. In conjunction with another JavaBean, that library renders graphically-enhanced reporting tools that read and write content to and from the XML data-structure, ready for resubmission to the EPR server. RESULTS: We demonstrate the InfoDOM experimental EPR system that is currently being adapted for test-bed use in three hospitals in Cagliari, Italy. For this we are working with specialists in neurology, radiology, and epilepsy. CONCLUSIONS: Early indications are that the rapid prototyping of reports afforded by our EPR system can assist communication between clinical specialists and our system developers. We are now experimenting with new technologies that may provide services to the kind of XML EPR client described here.

BibTex references

  author       = {Brelstaff, G. and Moehrs, S. and Anedda, P. and Tuveri, M. and Zanetti, G.},
  title        = {Internet patient records: new techniques},
  journal      = {J Med Internet Res},
  number       = {1},
  volume       = {3},
  pages        = {E8},
  month        = {january},
  year         = {2001},
  keywords     = {Internet/*organization \& administration | Medical Record Linkage/methods | Medical Records Systems, Computerized/*organization \& administration | Organizational Innovation | Programming Languages | Regional Medical Programs/organization \& administration |},
  url          = {},

Other publications in the database

» Gavin Brelstaff
» Sascha Moehrs
» Paolo Anedda
» Massimiliano Tuveri
» Gianluigi Zanetti