Digital networks for laboratory data: potentials, barriers and current initiatives

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2019 Feb 25;57(3):336-342. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2018-1131.


Medical care is increasingly delivered by multiple providers across healthcare sectors and specialties, leading to a fragmentation of the electronic patient record across organizations and vendor IT systems. The rapid uptake of wearables and connected diagnostic devices adds another source of densely collected data by the patients themselves. Integration of these data sources opens up several potentials: a longitudinal view of laboratory findings would close the gaps between individual provider visits and allow to more closely follow disease progression. Adding non-laboratory data (e.g. diagnoses, procedures) would add context and support clinical interpretation of findings. Case-based reasoning and disease-modelling approaches would allow to identify similar patient groups and classify endotypes. Realization of these potentials is, however, subject to several barriers, including legal and ethical prerequisites of data access, syntactic and semantic integration, comparability of items and user-centered presentation. The German Medical Informatics Initiative is presented as a current undertaking that strives to address these issues by establishing a national infrastructure for the secondary use of routine clinical data.

Keywords: electronic patient record; secondary use; systems integration.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Humans
  • Laboratories*
  • Medical Informatics*