Architecting health

The US Federal health architecture: FCW writes that the Department of Health and Human Services is working on an enterprise architecture plan that would include every federal department dealing with health care issues, in what could become the biggest enterprise architecture plan in the federal government.

“We have a huge data management challenge,” Dr. Claire Broome, senior adviser to the director for integrated health information systems at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You can say that again. I don’t know much about the US situation in this area, but I guess it indeed is a huge issue everywhere. I’m getting involved in a Danish project about one of the big issues in health architecture: medication. Well, I don’t know the right terminology in this area, but we are starting to look at the architectual issues around everything related to the “life situation” we can call “taking/getting medicin”. This is an incredibly complex area. The prescription based medicin seems to be especially interesting. The doctor – prescription – ordering – packaging – distribution – taking – cycle is the immediate process, but there are related processes which are important too, such as the whole money flow, with transactions worth more than 20 billion dollars a year.

Although it is not the scope of the work I’m currently involved with, the medicine pricing practice seems to be an issue too. Appearently, the pharmaceuticals are a bit too smart with their pricing upgrades. With a well architected medicine system, such tricks would be difficult, if not impossible. At least if the architectural principle openness were used. Maybe we need a CMR, Central Medicine Register, which uniquely identifies and describes all medicine? The problem is not that the data is not digitised, but that it is scattered around in dozens of databases that don’t interoperate well.

It’s a good case for doing some enterprise architecture, but also a challenging one.

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