Purpose: Much of the information needed for radiology teaching and research is not in the picture archiving and communication system but distributed in hospital information systems throughout the medical enterprise. Our objective is to describe the design, methodology, and implementation of a data warehouse to integrate and make accessible the types of medical data pertinent to radiology research and teaching, and to encourage implementation of similar approaches throughout the radiologic community.
Methods: We identified desiderata of radiology data warehouses and designed and implemented a prototype system (RadBank) to meet these needs. RadBank was built with open-source software tools on a Linux platform with a relational database. We created a text report parsing module that recognizes the structure of radiology reports and makes individual sections available for indexing and search. A database schema was designed to link radiology and pathology reports and to enable users to retrieve cases using flexible queries.
Results: Our system contains more than 2 million radiology and pathology reports, and allows full text search by patient history, findings, and diagnosis by radiology and pathology. RadBank has helped radiologists at our institution find teaching cases and identify research cohorts.
Conclusion: Data warehouses can provide radiologists access to important clinical information contained in radiology and pathology reports, and supplement the image information in picture archiving and communication system workstations. We believe that data warehouses similar to our system can be implemented in other radiology departments within a reasonable budget to make their vast radiologic-pathologic case material accessible for education and research.