Semantic integration in healthcare networks

Int J Med Inform. 2007 Feb-Mar;76(2-3):201-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2006.05.008. Epub 2006 Jun 12.


A seamless support of information flow for increasingly distributed healthcare processes requires to integrate heterogeneous IT systems into a comprehensive distributed information system. Different standards contribute to ease this integration. In a research project focussing on the development of a reference architecture for inter-institutional health information systems, we identified concurring standards currently in use. We therefore categorized these integration standards by distinguishing between technical and semantic integration on the one hand, and data and functional integration on the other hand. In addition, standards for semantic integration are roughly categorized according to their scope. By placing standards into a corresponding matrix a "semantic gap" is revealed, which cannot be covered by standards as it contains volatile medical concepts. As a conclusion, it is recommended to conceptually consider the necessity of system evolution in system architectures and also in future integration standards.

MeSH terms

  • Hospital Information Systems / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Information Management / methods*
  • Medical Informatics Applications
  • Semantics*
  • Software
  • Systems Integration*