Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Science Project To Clinical Resource (ORU repository)

Today I turned an interesting science project into a treasured clinical resource, and got to take lots of credit in the process. Not a bad day!

A member of the client's computer staff had put together a fascinating science project: a collection of ORUs (HL7 result messages) in a Reiser file system on a standalone Linux box, accessible through a simple TCP/IP protocol.

The science project was fascinating:
  • collecting the ORUs as an archival format because HL7 is flexible and somewhat changing
  • storing the ORUs in a small text file named with the specimen ID
  • adding a simple per-patient text file index to support reporting by patient
  • using the Reiser file system to hold many (20 million+) small files efficiently
  • using the TCP/IP protocol to make access from a web page easy
  • using the interface, all historical results were output from the LIS and therefore input into this respository
  • tapping into the HIS interface, this repository is kept as current as the HIS
The author's goal was to create an LIS downtime solution and a way to monitor the LIS->HIS interface, from which the ORUs come.

My goal was to create a helper app for my clinapp environment, providing supporting lab results far beyond the current set. Since my environment was created to support clinical impressions of conditions which are often observed over years, the users were thrilled with the ability to scroll back in time from current to mid-1974.

Even in its first day, the helper app has become wildly popular and has sparked interest in adding links to the repository from other web applications. Hurray for the original author, on whose shoulders I am happy to stand.