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[Gnumed-devel] a writeup on EMR structure

From: Karsten Hilbert
Subject: [Gnumed-devel] a writeup on EMR structure
Date: Mon, 5 May 2003 01:45:34 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/

Hi all,

please consider the following writeup. I have taken into
account the mentioned references and also the discussion on

The GnuMed EMR

Required reading
Weed: the problem-oriented medical record (SOAP, POMR)
 use Google

Slee: loss-free entity coding in medicine

Dutch model: Episodes of Care

Structural considerations
Health Issue
A Health Issue is a longer ranging medical condition associated with
a patient. There may be several episodes related with one health
issue and there must be at least one. At times a health issue will
first be appreciated by considering underlying similarities between
several medically related episodes. A health issue may have a finite
duration if the underlying medical condition is eventually fully
resolved. It may also span the entire life of the patient such as
in chronic or genetic ailments.

Clinical Episode
A Clinical Episode denotes a period of time during which the patient
was under care for one particular Health Issue (medical condition).
Several episodes (eg. progression, bouts, etc.) may be associated
with a particular health issue. There can be several encounters per
episode, there must be at least one. The start and end of an episode
isn't directly recorded but rather one can deduce that data from the
associated clinical items of which there will usually be several
(but at least one). Often, several providers will contribute to an
episode of care (via several encounters and items). One would think
that episodes can be deduced from clusters of closely related dates
of clinical encounters. While this is true it cannot be used reliably
in a programmatic way.

Clinical Encounter
A one-off contact between patient and health care system (or on behalf
of the patient) is called a "Clinical Encounter". An encounter is often
restricted to a given date but may span midnight and will thus refer to
two dates. The date itself is not directly stored in the encounter
table clin_encounter but must be determined from the commit timestamps
of the clinical items belonging to it. The encounter table records the
location, provider and subject of care as well as the type of encounter.
It really is more of an administrative than a purely clinical concept.
Note that it also does not fit hospital stays particularly well where
it is harder to define clean boundaries between encounters. One
encounter will often relate to more than one episode/health issue.

Clinical Item
In GnuMed a medically meaningful piece of information is called "Clinical
Item". Such items are typically elements of the SOAP structure such as a
diagnosis, a history item, an assessment, a plan, etc. Several tables,
both specific and generic store such items. They all inherit from the
table clin_item which records when and by whom an item was committed,
as well as to which Clinical Encounter and Clinical Episode this item

Partial Contact
This concept of the Dutch Episode Model is not directly
represented in the GnuMed clinical table structure. It is
easily derived from the existing data by aggregating all
Clinical Items that belong to the same Clinical Encounter
and the same Clinical Episode.

Implementation considerations
Clinical narrative
Due to the fact that clinical items are stored in several different
specific and non-specific tables it is difficult to do a full-text
search across the medical record of a patient. For this reason all
clinical narrative is aggregated in the clin_narrative table and
other tables link to its rows. Views may be provided to automatically
resolve those foreign keys where appropriate.

Predefined data
Wherever fixed strings are predefined for certain fields (such
as descriptions of encounter types or history item types) provisions
for translation of those strings via gmI18N.sql must be made. An
ID range for user-supplied additional strings must be defined. The
default language is English, other languages are handled via
translations. In appropriate cases views may facilitate easier
access to translated strings. Names of such views are to be
prepended by "v_i18n_".

Clinical items
All tables holding clinical items must inherit from clin_item.


health issue
-> several episodes
   -> several encounters
      -> several partial contacts
         -> several items

The abovementioned is implemented in tables and views in
gmclinical/gmClinicalViews.sql. Public database bootstrapped

Please test, review and comment.

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