MER Virtual Information Repository for the Workflow Engine Access

A key concept for management of process workflows is that a package of information flows with the patient through every point in the perioperative process. Updating that package shows the real-time state of the patient in process sufficient for the workflow engine to determine what step of the process the patient is in, whether a step in the process is complete, if conditions are met that are necessary to move to the next step, or to ask a specialist to tell the system what the next step should be. This package or MER captures essential realtime data necessary to efficiently and safely manage patient flow.

This package concept is an essential component of the architecture for Boeing Computer Systems and follows an airplane or missile through the entire assembly line process. It is stored in a virtual repository in that primary data resides in hundreds of heterogeneous financial, design, and factory automation systems throughout the Boeing Company. The concept was refined through work with the NIST Automated Manufacturing Research Facility (AMRF) [6] and Titan Systems Corp [35]. It is here extended to health care.

MER information is the fuel for workflow engine processing. The workflow engine will seek out the required information from multiple data sources related to each step the patient goes through in the perioperative process. These sources include, but are not limited to, the electronic medical record used house wide, the perioperative software system, the pharmacy software system, the clinical laboratory software system, the picture archiving system (PACS) used for accessing digitized images, and others. Having user interfaces for the workflow engine Web based, PDA based, and wireless, will provide for easy access to any data source from any location to obtain whatever information is needed for the current step of the workflow process.

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