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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An integrated informatics approach to institutional biobanking: EHR utilization in the procurement of research biospecimens
by Soares, Stephanie Elaine, M.S., University of California, Davis, 2013, 88; 1539704
Abstract (Summary)

Introduction: Human biospecimens such as surgical tissue and blood are essential for some types of biomedical research because they contain genetic material (genes contained in living organisms). Because of their genetic content, biospecimens are able to add great value to fields of study such as genomics, molecular biology and biological chemistry. Increasing knowledge in these fields holds promise for improving healthcare for individual patients (precision medicine), as well as the broader healthcare community. These genetic materials obtained from patient donors are procured, stored and dispersed through a complex operation called biobanking. Biobanking systems are involved with two primary functions, 1) procure sufficient quantities of human biospecimens allowing researchers the materials required to answer scientific questions, and 2) capture relevant corresponding clinical and phenotypic information for eventual correlation with scientific results. This capture and manipulation of corresponding information (e.g. clinical, pathological, and environmental) are where the value of the biospecimens are maximized for research purposes. The complexity of biobanking requires informatics to integrate the biospecimen-related information with corresponding clinical and phenotypic data. In designing biobanking systems, informatics must be considered as they play a vital role in managing the samples and data in a timely fashion as well as reducing the costs associated with biobanking.

Background: Biobanks are resources that play a key role in the procurement, processing, storage and dispersal of human biospecimens. Collections of human tissue have been a common place in hospitals and specialist clinics since the nineteenth century when preservation techniques were introduced. Governance concerning these human biobanks has evolved and is set by institutional, regional, national and international policy. They can be public (e.g. non-profit, academic, governmental), private (e.g. for-profit or pharmaceutical industry) or public-private partnerships. Regardless of the governance level or specific research focus of the biobank, the next generation of biobanking resources will require interdisciplinary collaborations and integrated informatics approaches to accelerate the procurement and use of the research biospecimens.

Methods: A literature search was conducted to explore biobanking informatics configurations and architecture to determine the context and extent of the software applications utilized in current biobanking systems. There were a substantial number of publications describing informatics architecture and their export of data to a Virtual Data Warehouse or Centralized Research Data Repository. However, there was a lack of published literature specifically describing use of an enterprise-wide electronic health record (EHR) in the initial three upstream workflows (i.e. clinical, pathology and biobank) involved with most institutional biobanking systems. Patient data generated/utilized in these three workflows are manually double-entered into separate information applications as there is no direct data exchange/export between EHR and the Laboratory Information System (LIS) or the Biorepository Information Management System (BIMS) specifically to assist with biobank procurement. Therefore, an EHR integrated-access informatics model was designed that would maximize benefits created by the EHRs capabilities in the upstream workflows of an institutional biobanking system. The approach described in the thesis was designed and documented using a model driven UML tool and incorporates an EHR integrated-access approach along with inter-departmental workflow processes. Interoperability gaps were identified that could take advantage of institutional EHR software existing at most large academic healthcare institutions or teaching hospitals. This model synergistically integrates the EHR, LIS and BIMS to maximize information exchange during the upstream biospecimen procurement workflow. This informatics model for institutional biobanking is based on the premise that commercial software applications are already implemented at most large academic healthcare facilities and they can be utilized within their biobanking systems.

Conclusion: This EHR integrated-access model would enhance sharing of key research data between three software applications (EHR, LIS, BIMS) that are available at most large academic medical centers that perform research biobanking. The informatics model would promote data exchange between processes of three primary biobanking steps in the clinic, pathology department and biobank improving efficiency and increasing biospecimen procurement. Large healthcare facilities who have EHR, LIS and BIMS applications available could utilize this EHR integrated-access model as a first-step in improving their biobanking informatics workflow to increase high-quality biospecimen collections. New methodologies that improve the success of biobanks can eventually lead to institutional biobanking systems playing a major role in a path to personalized medicine.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hogarth, Michael A.
Commitee: Howell, Lydia P., Odor, Alberto, deVere White, Ralph W.
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Health Informatics
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 52/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Information science, Health care management
Keywords: Biobanking, Biospecimens, Electronic health record, Research
Publication Number: 1539704
ISBN: 978-1-303-15467-6
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