Open Access Open Badges Research

Clinical data integration of distributed data sources using Health Level Seven (HL7) v3-RIM mapping

Teeradache Viangteeravat1, Matthew N Anyanwu2*, Venkateswara Ra Nagisetty2, Emin Kuscu2, Mark Eijiro Sakauye3 and Duojiao Wu4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Michigan State University, E. Lansing, MI 48824-1327 USA

2 Biomedical Informatics, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN 38163, USA

3 Vanderbilt University, 2201 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37235 USA

4 Biomedical Research Center, Fudan University, Zhongshan Hospital, Shanghai, China, Fenglin Road 180, Shanghai, China

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Journal of Clinical Bioinformatics 2011, 1:32  doi:10.1186/2043-9113-1-32

Published: 21 November 2011



Health information exchange and health information integration has become one of the top priorities for healthcare systems across institutions and hospitals. Most organizations and establishments implement health information exchange and integration in order to support meaningful information retrieval among their disparate healthcare systems. The challenges that prevent efficient health information integration for heterogeneous data sources are the lack of a common standard to support mapping across distributed data sources and the numerous and diverse healthcare domains. Health Level Seven (HL7) is a standards development organization which creates standards, but is itself not the standard. They create the Reference Information Model. RIM is developed by HL7's technical committees. It is a standardized abstract representation of HL7 data across all the domains of health care. In this article, we aim to present a design and a prototype implementation of HL7 v3-RIM mapping for information integration of distributed clinical data sources. The implementation enables the user to retrieve and search information that has been integrated using HL7 v3-RIM technology from disparate health care systems.

Method and results

We designed and developed a prototype implementation of HL7 v3-RIM mapping function to integrate distributed clinical data sources using R-MIM classes from HL7 v3-RIM as a global view along with a collaborative centralized web-based mapping tool to tackle the evolution of both global and local schemas. Our prototype was implemented and integrated with a Clinical Database management Systems CDMS as a plug-in module. We tested the prototype system with some use case scenarios for distributed clinical data sources across several legacy CDMS. The results have been effective in improving information delivery, completing tasks that would have been otherwise difficult to accomplish, and reducing the time required to finish tasks which are used in collaborative information retrieval and sharing with other systems.


We created a prototype implementation of HL7 v3-RIM mapping for information integration between distributed clinical data sources to promote collaborative healthcare and translational research. The prototype has effectively and efficiently ensured the accuracy of the information and knowledge extractions for systems that have been integrated