Workflow Lexicons in Healthcare: Validation of the SWIM Lexicon

J Digit Imaging. 2017 Jun;30(3):255-266. doi: 10.1007/s10278-016-9935-4.


For clinical departments seeking to successfully navigate the challenges of modern health reform, obtaining access to operational and clinical data to establish and sustain goals for improving quality is essential. More broadly, health delivery organizations are also seeking to understand performance across multiple facilities and often across multiple electronic medical record (EMR) systems. Interpreting operational data across multiple vendor systems can be challenging, as various manufacturers may describe different departmental workflow steps in different ways and sometimes even within a single vendor's installed customer base. In 2012, The Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) recognized the need for better quality and performance data standards and formed SIIM's Workflow Initiative for Medicine (SWIM), an initiative designed to consistently describe workflow steps in radiology departments as well as defining operational quality metrics. The SWIM lexicon was published as a working model to describe operational workflow steps and quality measures. We measured the prevalence of the SWIM lexicon workflow steps in both academic and community radiology environments using real-world patient observations and correlated that information with automatically captured workflow steps from our clinical information systems. Our goal was to measure frequency of occurrence of workflow steps identified by the SWIM lexicon in a real-world clinical setting, as well as to correlate how accurately departmental information systems captured patient flow through our health facility.

Keywords: Computer systems; Controlled vocabulary; Data mining.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Checklist*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Humans
  • Medical Records / standards*
  • Radiology Department, Hospital*
  • Vocabulary*
  • Workflow*