Craig Le Clair By Craig Le Clair

I just finished a Webinar on Medical Information Management sponsored by Kofax, a process automation firm whose core expertise is paper capture and elimination. It is available on their site We are entering an interesting period here, and may experience a tech bubble in medical or at least a somewhat less desperate Y2K experience. Clearly there is energy and investment around medical information management that increases each month, and that has not been seen in a quite a while. Concepts like “results-based medicine” that will open up a new market for analytics in medicine — see my colleague Boris Evelson’s open letter for Information Week.

And “meaningful use” — referring to use of digital medical records — will have greater short term effect. “Meaningful use” is pretty vague — basically saying you will know it when you see it. In the above mentioned Webinar, the stage for defining “meaningful use” is a four stage maturity model for records/content management. There are many maturity models for overall medical information management, but not specifically for the medical record. If anyone knows of one — please let me know. In any case, the patient record is seen in this model as existing over several environments — unstructured repositories, EHR systems, DICOM repositories, and administrative systems. It is the ultimate federated view, and what changes through maturity is how integrated the views become and which of thee four systems becomes the “primary view” into the record. In my upcoming publication on this area, I will put a stake in ground as to what constitutes“meaningful use” relative to this model. We will be in a hybrid — federated state — for some time — particularly with adoption issues of EHRs. So “meaningful use” has to be a certain progress milestone in this hybrid maturity model.

In any event, these are the right conversations to be having this time. These terms and the conversation are now commonplace in our vocabulary and were not 12 months ago.