Building a medical multimedia database to integrate clinical information: An application of high-performance computing and communications technology
The rapid growth of diagnostic-imaging technologies over the past two decades has dramatically increased the amount of nontextual data generated in clinical medicine. The architecture of traditional, textoriented, clinical information systems has made the integration of digitized clinical images with the patient record problematic. Systems for the classification, retrieval, and integration of clinical images are in their infancy. Recent advances in high-performance computing, imaging, and networking technology now make it technologically and economically feasible to develop an integrated, multimedia, electronic patient record. As part of The National Library of Medicine's Biomedical Applications of High-Performance Computing and Communications program, we plan to develop Image Engine, a prototype microcomputer-based system for the storage, retrieval, integration, and sharing of a wide range of clinically important digital images. Images stored in the Image Engine database will be indexed and organized using the Unified Medical Language System Metathesaurus and will be dynamically linked to data in a text-based, clinical information system. We will evaluate Image Engine by initially implementing it in three clinical domains (oncology, gastroenterology, and clinical pathology) at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.