Berlin, 26.11.2019. Within the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII), German university hospitals and MII partners are joining forces to create a national infrastructure that makes it possible for routine healthcare data to be used for medical research. To this end, the partners are establishing data integration centres (DICs) at university hospitals. The DICs form the technological and organisational backbone for the sharing of data between healthcare and medical research – across multiple sites and multiple institutions, and in compliance with data protection requirements. On 25 November, over 50 representatives from 25 DICs converged at a Projectathon in the Lecture Hall Ruins venue at Charité hospital in Berlin, and conducted the first standardised analysis of DIC test data.
In July, the initiative agreed to use the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) international standard created by Health Level Seven (HL7) for the MII core data set. At the Projectathon, test data were consistently described on the basis of FHIR profiles. Dr Danny Ammon, head of the DIC at University Hospital Jena, explained: “All data integration centre staff worked together today to convert test data from their specific organisations into the FHIR interoperable format, demonstrating a shared understanding of FHIR profiles. This is an important step towards the standardised provision of data for medical research.”
First, the MII core data set modules “Medication”, “Lab results”, and “Person” were profiled according to FHIR. This standardised format simplifies data sharing and ensures compatibility with the international community, in both scientific and commercial contexts. The FHIR-compliant data formed the basis, subsequently, for the first descriptive analyses, e.g. age distribution and sex ratio within the core data set module “Person”. Significantly more sophisticated analyses will follow in a second Projectathon.
A total of 29 data integration centres are being established across Germany during the current MII funding phase. The DICs are to enable the capture, storage and exchange of medical information in a form ideal for use in both healthcare and research. The DICs’ tasks include extracting data from primary systems, annotating and formatting data, data stewardship and the provision of data for medical research
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The aim of the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII) is to enhance research and patient care through innovative IT solutions. These will enable the sharing and use of data from healthcare and from clinical and biomedical research across multiple entities and sites. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is investing a total of 160 million euros in the initiative through 2021. Within the scope of four consortia – DIFUTURE, HiGHmed, MIRACUM and SMITH – all German university hospitals and medical centres at over 30 locations are cooperating with research institutions, businesses, health insurers and patient representatives. Their mission is to enable the use of research findings to the direct benefit of patients. At the same time, priority is given to robust data protection and security.
The Berlin-based coordination office, operated by TMF (Technology, Methods and Infrastructure for Networked Medical Research) with MFT (German Association of Medical Faculties) and VUD (German Association of Academic Medical Centers), is responsible for managing cooperation within MII at national level.