Radiographs, laboratory results or medical reports – hospitals and medical practices produce millions of patient data every day. The large volumes of data in clinical information systems have enormous potential in the healthcare of tomorrow. It is therefore important not only to collect the data, but also to get the most benefits from the data. As yet, most of the patient data that accumulates in medical facilities exists unused in heterogeneous form. Being one of four consortia of the medical informatics initiative, the SMITH Consortium is pursuing the goal of digitally networking patient data generated during hospital stays at multiple locations and thus making it accessible for clinical and biomedical research.
The sensible and targeted networking of research and care contributes to patients benefiting more quickly from validated research results, receiving more precise diagnoses and better therapies. Medical informatics forms the basis for finding the connections between treatment data and research data. The progression and complexity of diseases can be analyzed and understood more precisely by researchers. The development of new and individualized treatment procedures becomes possible. Diseases can be detected earlier. The SMITH Consortium demonstrates the first successful clinical applications with the Use Cases ASIC and HELP. The methodological Use Case PheP further enriches the clinical data treasure trove.
Within the framework of the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII), the SMITH Consortium is significantly involved in the creation of nationwide uniform data access and data exchange of patient data and biomaterials. In addition to technical harmonization, this primarily involves the creation of uniform organizational and legally secure framework. Essential processes, structures and terms for central access and uniform use of patient data and biomaterials have so far been coordinated in a set of contracts and a usage regulation between the university medical sites of the MII. In addition, a central application and registry office was established that manages project applications from researchers and provides transparency for patients.
Patients can explicitly approve the use of their data for the purposes of medical research by signing a consent form. Since many medical questions have not yet been determined at the time of agreement, consent to the use of data is formulated in general terms and can be revoked at any time without giving reasons. Voluntary consent is currently possible in the context of treatment at the participating university hospitals. Trained staff inform patients on site how to participate in the Medical Informatics Initiative.
For more information, have a look at the explanatory film.
In order to utilize large amounts of data from medicine and healthcare for tailored diagnostics and therapy, specialists are needed who can extract, manage and analyze data. SMITH brings together the expertise and experience gained by the consortium partners from academia, research and industry, as well as the newly created Data Integration Centers, in various educational formats and programs. The establishment of new professorships and the extensive, structured expansion of teaching programs in medical informatics are planned at all locations.