JMIR Publications

JMIR Medical Informatics

Clinical informatics, decision support for health professionals, electronic health records, and ehealth infrastructures.


Journal Description

JMIR Medical Informatics (JMI, ISSN 2291-9694) focusses on clinical informatics, big data in health and health care, decision support for health professionals, electronic health records, ehealth infrastructures and implementation. It has a focus on applied, translational research, with a broad readership including clinicians, CIOs, engineers, industry and health informatics professionals.

Published by JMIR Publications, publisher of the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), the leading eHealth/mHealth journal (Impact Factor 2015: 4.532), JMIR Med Inform has a different scope (emphasizing more on applications for clinicians and health professionals rather than consumers/citizens, which is the focus of JMIR), publishes even faster, and also allows papers which are more technical or more formative than what would be published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

JMIR Medical Informatics journal features a rapid and thorough peer-review process, professional copyediting, professional production of PDF, XHTML, and XML proofs (ready for deposit in PubMed Central/PubMed). The site is optimized for mobile and iPad use.

JMIR Medical Informatics adheres to the same quality standards as JMIR and all articles published here are also cross-listed in the Table of Contents of JMIR, the worlds' leading medical journal in health sciences / health services research and health informatics (


Recent Articles:

  • Clinicians in Intensive Care Unit. Copyright: Calleamanecer
Image Source: License:  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0.

    Prediction of Sepsis in the Intensive Care Unit With Minimal Electronic Health Record Data: A Machine Learning Approach


    Background: Sepsis is one of the leading causes of mortality in hospitalized patients. Despite this fact, a reliable means of predicting sepsis onset remains elusive. Early and accurate sepsis onset predictions could allow more aggressive and targeted therapy while maintaining antimicrobial stewardship. Existing detection methods suffer from low performance and often require time-consuming laboratory test results. Objective: To study and validate a sepsis prediction method, InSight, for the new Sepsis-3 definitions in retrospective data, make predictions using a minimal set of variables from within the electronic health record data, compare the performance of this approach with existing scoring systems, and investigate the effects of data sparsity on InSight performance. Methods: We apply InSight, a machine learning classification system that uses multivariable combinations of easily obtained patient data (vitals, peripheral capillary oxygen saturation, Glasgow Coma Score, and age), to predict sepsis using the retrospective Multiparameter Intelligent Monitoring in Intensive Care (MIMIC)-III dataset, restricted to intensive care unit (ICU) patients aged 15 years or more. Following the Sepsis-3 definitions of the sepsis syndrome, we compare the classification performance of InSight versus quick sequential organ failure assessment (qSOFA), modified early warning score (MEWS), systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), simplified acute physiology score (SAPS) II, and sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) to determine whether or not patients will become septic at a fixed period of time before onset. We also test the robustness of the InSight system to random deletion of individual input observations. Results: In a test dataset with 11.3% sepsis prevalence, InSight produced superior classification performance compared with the alternative scores as measured by area under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUROC) and area under precision-recall curves (APR). In detection of sepsis onset, InSight attains AUROC = 0.880 (SD 0.006) at onset time and APR = 0.595 (SD 0.016), both of which are superior to the performance attained by SIRS (AUROC: 0.609; APR: 0.160), qSOFA (AUROC: 0.772; APR: 0.277), and MEWS (AUROC: 0.803; APR: 0.327) computed concurrently, as well as SAPS II (AUROC: 0.700; APR: 0.225) and SOFA (AUROC: 0.725; APR: 0.284) computed at admission (P<.001 for all comparisons). Similar results are observed for 1-4 hours preceding sepsis onset. In experiments where approximately 60% of input data are deleted at random, InSight attains an AUROC of 0.781 (SD 0.013) and APR of 0.401 (SD 0.015) at sepsis onset time. Even with 60% of data missing, InSight remains superior to the corresponding SIRS scores (AUROC and APR, P<.001), qSOFA scores (P=.0095; P<.001) and superior to SOFA and SAPS II computed at admission (AUROC and APR, P<.001), where all of these comparison scores (except InSight) are computed without data deletion. Conclusions: Despite using little more than vitals, InSight is an effective tool for predicting sepsis onset and performs well even with randomly missing data.

  • Health news. Image source: License:CC0 Public Domain.

    Characterizing the (Perceived) Newsworthiness of Health Science Articles: A Data-Driven Approach


    Background: Health science findings are primarily disseminated through manuscript publications. Information subsidies are used to communicate newsworthy findings to journalists in an effort to earn mass media coverage and further disseminate health science research to mass audiences. Journal editors and news journalists then select which news stories receive coverage and thus public attention. Objective: This study aims to identify attributes of published health science articles that correlate with (1) journal editor issuance of press releases and (2) mainstream media coverage. Methods: We constructed four novel datasets to identify factors that correlate with press release issuance and media coverage. These corpora include thousands of published articles, subsets of which received press release or mainstream media coverage. We used statistical machine learning methods to identify correlations between words in the science abstracts and press release issuance and media coverage. Further, we used a topic modeling-based machine learning approach to uncover latent topics predictive of the perceived newsworthiness of science articles. Results: Both press release issuance for, and media coverage of, health science articles are predictable from corresponding journal article content. For the former task, we achieved average areas under the curve (AUCs) of 0.666 (SD 0.019) and 0.882 (SD 0.018) on two separate datasets, comprising 3024 and 10,760 articles, respectively. For the latter task, models realized mean AUCs of 0.591 (SD 0.044) and 0.783 (SD 0.022) on two datasets—in this case containing 422 and 28,910 pairs, respectively. We reported most-predictive words and topics for press release or news coverage. Conclusions: We have presented a novel data-driven characterization of content that renders health science “newsworthy.” The analysis provides new insights into the news coverage selection process. For example, it appears epidemiological papers concerning common behaviors (eg, alcohol consumption) tend to receive media attention.

  • Image created and copyright owned by authors.

    Satisfaction Levels and Factors Influencing Satisfaction With Use of a Social App for Neonatal and Pediatric Patient Transfer Information Systems: A...


    Background: The treatment of neonatal and pediatric patients is limited to certain medical institutions depending on treatment difficulty. Effective patient transfers are necessary in situations where there are limited medical resources. In South Korea, the government has made a considerable effort to establish patient transfer systems using various means, such as websites, telephone, and so forth. However, in reality, the effort has not yet been effective. Objective: In this study, we ran a patient transfer information system using a social app for effective patient transfer. We analyzed the results, satisfaction levels, and the factors influencing satisfaction. Methods: Naver Band is a social app and mobile community application which in Korea is more popular than Facebook. It facilitates group communication. Using Naver Band, two systems were created: one by the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the other by the Department of Pediatrics at Chonbuk National University Children's Hospital, South Korea. The information necessary for patient transfers was provided to participating obstetricians (n=51) and pediatricians (n=90). We conducted a survey to evaluate the systems and reviewed the results retrospectively. Results: The number of patients transferred was reported to increase by 65% (26/40) obstetricians and 40% (23/57) pediatricians. The time taken for transfers was reported to decrease by 72% (29/40) obstetricians and 59% (34/57) pediatricians. Satisfaction was indicated by 83% (33/40) obstetricians and 89% (51/57) pediatricians. Regarding factors influencing satisfaction, the obstetricians reported communication with doctors in charge (P=.03) and time reduction during transfers (P=.02), whereas the pediatricians indicated review of the diagnosis and treatment of transferred patients (P=.01) and the time reduction during transfers (P=.007). Conclusions: The users were highly satisfied and different users indicated different factors of satisfaction. This finding implies that users’ requirements should be accommodated in future developments of patient transfer information systems.

  • Image Source: Q&A, copyright,,
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution cc-by 2.0

    A Semi-Supervised Learning Approach to Enhance Health Care Community–Based Question Answering: A Case Study in Alcoholism


    Background: Community-based question answering (CQA) sites play an important role in addressing health information needs. However, a significant number of posted questions remain unanswered. Automatically answering the posted questions can provide a useful source of information for Web-based health communities. Objective: In this study, we developed an algorithm to automatically answer health-related questions based on past questions and answers (QA). We also aimed to understand information embedded within Web-based health content that are good features in identifying valid answers. Methods: Our proposed algorithm uses information retrieval techniques to identify candidate answers from resolved QA. To rank these candidates, we implemented a semi-supervised leaning algorithm that extracts the best answer to a question. We assessed this approach on a curated corpus from Yahoo! Answers and compared against a rule-based string similarity baseline. Results: On our dataset, the semi-supervised learning algorithm has an accuracy of 86.2%. Unified medical language system–based (health related) features used in the model enhance the algorithm’s performance by proximately 8%. A reasonably high rate of accuracy is obtained given that the data are considerably noisy. Important features distinguishing a valid answer from an invalid answer include text length, number of stop words contained in a test question, a distance between the test question and other questions in the corpus, and a number of overlapping health-related terms between questions. Conclusions: Overall, our automated QA system based on historical QA pairs is shown to be effective according to the dataset in this case study. It is developed for general use in the health care domain, which can also be applied to other CQA sites.

  • Image Source: the ward, copyright allenran 917,, Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution cc-by 2.0

    Forecasting Daily Patient Outflow From a Ward Having No Real-Time Clinical Data


    Objective: Our study investigates different models to forecast the total number of next-day discharges from an open ward having no real-time clinical data. Methods: We compared 5 popular regression algorithms to model total next-day discharges: (1) autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA), (2) the autoregressive moving average with exogenous variables (ARMAX), (3) k-nearest neighbor regression, (4) random forest regression, and (5) support vector regression. Although the autoregressive integrated moving average model relied on past 3-month discharges, nearest neighbor forecasting used median of similar discharges in the past in estimating next-day discharge. In addition, the ARMAX model used the day of the week and number of patients currently in ward as exogenous variables. For the random forest and support vector regression models, we designed a predictor set of 20 patient features and 88 ward-level features. Results: Our data consisted of 12,141 patient visits over 1826 days. Forecasting quality was measured using mean forecast error, mean absolute error, symmetric mean absolute percentage error, and root mean square error. When compared with a moving average prediction model, all 5 models demonstrated superior performance with the random forests achieving 22.7% improvement in mean absolute error, for all days in the year 2014. Conclusions: In the absence of clinical information, our study recommends using patient-level and ward-level data in predicting next-day discharges. Random forest and support vector regression models are able to use all available features from such data, resulting in superior performance over traditional autoregressive methods. An intelligent estimate of available beds in wards plays a crucial role in relieving access block in emergency departments.

  • Image created by and copyright: the authors.

    Evaluation of an Expert System for the Generation of Speech and Language Therapy Plans


    Background: Speech and language pathologists (SLPs) deal with a wide spectrum of disorders, arising from many different conditions, that affect voice, speech, language, and swallowing capabilities in different ways. Therefore, the outcomes of Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) are highly dependent on the accurate, consistent, and complete design of personalized therapy plans. However, SLPs often have very limited time to work with their patients and to browse the large (and growing) catalogue of activities and specific exercises that can be put into therapy plans. As a consequence, many plans are suboptimal and fail to address the specific needs of each patient. Objective: We aimed to evaluate an expert system that automatically generates plans for speech and language therapy, containing semiannual activities in the five areas of hearing, oral structure and function, linguistic formulation, expressive language and articulation, and receptive language. The goal was to assess whether the expert system speeds up the SLPs’ work and leads to more accurate, consistent, and complete therapy plans for their patients. Methods: We examined the evaluation results of the SPELTA expert system in supporting the decision making of 4 SLPs treating children in three special education institutions in Ecuador. The expert system was first trained with data from 117 cases, including medical data; diagnosis for voice, speech, language and swallowing capabilities; and therapy plans created manually by the SLPs. It was then used to automatically generate new therapy plans for 13 new patients. The SLPs were finally asked to evaluate the accuracy, consistency, and completeness of those plans. A four-fold cross-validation experiment was also run on the original corpus of 117 cases in order to assess the significance of the results. Results: The evaluation showed that 87% of the outputs provided by the SPELTA expert system were considered valid therapy plans for the different areas. The SLPs rated the overall accuracy, consistency, and completeness of the proposed activities with 4.65, 4.6, and 4.6 points (to a maximum of 5), respectively. The ratings for the subplans generated for the areas of hearing, oral structure and function, and linguistic formulation were nearly perfect, whereas the subplans for expressive language and articulation and for receptive language failed to deal properly with some of the subject cases. Overall, the SLPs indicated that over 90% of the subplans generated automatically were “better than” or “as good as” what the SLPs would have created manually if given the average time they can devote to the task. The cross-validation experiment yielded very similar results. Conclusions: The results show that the SPELTA expert system provides valuable input for SLPs to design proper therapy plans for their patients, in a shorter time and considering a larger set of activities than proceeding manually. The algorithms worked well even in the presence of a sparse corpus, and the evidence suggests that the system will become more reliable as it is trained with more subjects.

  • Source:; CC0 Public Domain.

    Data Safe Havens and Trust: Toward a Common Understanding of Trusted Research Platforms for Governing Secure and Ethical Health Research


    In parallel with the advances in big data-driven clinical research, the data safe haven concept has evolved over the last decade. It has led to the development of a framework to support the secure handling of health care information used for clinical research that balances compliance with legal and regulatory controls and ethical requirements while engaging with the public as a partner in its governance. We describe the evolution of 4 separately developed clinical research platforms into services throughout the United Kingdom-wide Farr Institute and their common deployment features in practice. The Farr Institute is a case study from which we propose a common definition of data safe havens as trusted platforms for clinical academic research. We use this common definition to discuss the challenges and dilemmas faced by the clinical academic research community, to help promote a consistent understanding of them and how they might best be handled in practice. We conclude by questioning whether the common definition represents a safe and trustworthy model for conducting clinical research that can stand the test of time and ongoing technical advances while paying heed to evolving public and professional concerns.

  • UVON method diagram, created and uploaded by the author.
Common Creatives Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC).

    Evaluating Health Information Systems Using Ontologies


    Background: There are several frameworks that attempt to address the challenges of evaluation of health information systems by offering models, methods, and guidelines about what to evaluate, how to evaluate, and how to report the evaluation results. Model-based evaluation frameworks usually suggest universally applicable evaluation aspects but do not consider case-specific aspects. On the other hand, evaluation frameworks that are case specific, by eliciting user requirements, limit their output to the evaluation aspects suggested by the users in the early phases of system development. In addition, these case-specific approaches extract different sets of evaluation aspects from each case, making it challenging to collectively compare, unify, or aggregate the evaluation of a set of heterogeneous health information systems. Objectives: The aim of this paper is to find a method capable of suggesting evaluation aspects for a set of one or more health information systems—whether similar or heterogeneous—by organizing, unifying, and aggregating the quality attributes extracted from those systems and from an external evaluation framework. Methods: On the basis of the available literature in semantic networks and ontologies, a method (called Unified eValuation using Ontology; UVON) was developed that can organize, unify, and aggregate the quality attributes of several health information systems into a tree-style ontology structure. The method was extended to integrate its generated ontology with the evaluation aspects suggested by model-based evaluation frameworks. An approach was developed to extract evaluation aspects from the ontology that also considers evaluation case practicalities such as the maximum number of evaluation aspects to be measured or their required degree of specificity. The method was applied and tested in Future Internet Social and Technological Alignment Research (FI-STAR), a project of 7 cloud-based eHealth applications that were developed and deployed across European Union countries. Results: The relevance of the evaluation aspects created by the UVON method for the FI-STAR project was validated by the corresponding stakeholders of each case. These evaluation aspects were extracted from a UVON-generated ontology structure that reflects both the internally declared required quality attributes in the 7 eHealth applications of the FI-STAR project and the evaluation aspects recommended by the Model for ASsessment of Telemedicine applications (MAST) evaluation framework. The extracted evaluation aspects were used to create questionnaires (for the corresponding patients and health professionals) to evaluate each individual case and the whole of the FI-STAR project. Conclusions: The UVON method can provide a relevant set of evaluation aspects for a heterogeneous set of health information systems by organizing, unifying, and aggregating the quality attributes through ontological structures. Those quality attributes can be either suggested by evaluation models or elicited from the stakeholders of those systems in the form of system requirements. The method continues to be systematic, context sensitive, and relevant across a heterogeneous set of health information systems.

  • Radiologist is checking the picture archiving and communication system at Mubarak Hospital. Source and copyright: the authors.

    Users’ Perspectives on a Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS): An In-Depth Study in a Teaching Hospital in Kuwait


    Background: Picture archiving and communication system (PACS) is a well-known imaging informatics application in health care organizations, specifically designed for the radiology department. Health care providers have exhibited willingness toward evaluating PACS in hospitals to ascertain the critical success and failure of the technology, considering that evaluation is a basic requirement. Objective: This study aimed at evaluating the success of a PACS in a regional teaching hospital of Kuwait, from users’ perspectives, using information systems success criteria. Methods: An in-depth study was conducted by using quantitative and qualitative methods. This mixed-method study was based on: (1) questionnaires, distributed to all radiologists and technologists and (2) interviews, conducted with PACS administrators. Results: In all, 60 questionnaires were received from the respondents. These included 39 radiologists (75% response rate) and 21 technologists (62% response rate), with the results showing almost three-quarters (74%, 44 of 59) of the respondents rating PACS positively and as user friendly. This study’s findings revealed that the demographic data, including computer experience, was an insignificant factor, having no influence on the users’ responses. The findings were further substantiated by the administrators’ interview responses, which supported the benefits of PACS, indicating the need for developing a unified policy aimed at streamlining and improving the departmental workflow. Conclusions: The PACS had a positive and productive impact on the radiologists’ and technologists’ work performance. They were endeavoring to resolve current problems while keeping abreast of advances in PACS technology, including teleradiology and mobile image viewer, which is steadily increasing in usage in the Kuwaiti health system.

  • Image Source: Makeshift Desk, copyright Jo Guldi,,
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution cc-by 2.0

    Adoption Factors of the Electronic Health Record: A Systematic Review


    Background: The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) was a significant piece of legislation in America that served as a catalyst for the adoption of health information technology. Following implementation of the HITECH Act, Health Information Technology (HIT) experienced broad adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHR), despite skepticism exhibited by many providers for the transition to an electronic system. A thorough review of EHR adoption facilitator and barriers provides ongoing support for the continuation of EHR implementation across various health care structures, possibly leading to a reduction in associated economic expenditures. Objective: The purpose of this review is to compile a current and comprehensive list of facilitators and barriers to the adoption of the EHR in the United States. Methods: Authors searched Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) and MEDLINE, 01/01/2012–09/01/2015, core clinical/academic journals, MEDLINE full text, and evaluated only articles germane to our research objective. Team members selected a final list of articles through consensus meetings (n=31). Multiple research team members thoroughly read each article to confirm applicability and study conclusions, thereby increasing validity. Results: Group members identified common facilitators and barriers associated with the EHR adoption process. In total, 25 adoption facilitators were identified in the literature occurring 109 times; the majority of which were efficiency, hospital size, quality, access to data, perceived value, and ability to transfer information. A total of 23 barriers to adoption were identified in the literature, appearing 95 times; the majority of which were cost, time consuming, perception of uselessness, transition of data, facility location, and implementation issues. Conclusions: The 25 facilitators and 23 barriers to the adoption of the EHR continue to reveal a preoccupation on cost, despite incentives in the HITECH Act. Limited financial backing and outdated technology were also common barriers frequently mentioned during data review. Future public policy should include incentives commensurate with those in the HITECH Act to maintain strong adoption rates.

  • Facilitating Secure Sharing of Personal Health Data in the Cloud


    Background: Internet-based applications are providing new ways of promoting health and reducing the cost of care. Although data can be kept encrypted in servers, the user does not have the ability to decide whom the data are shared with. Technically this is linked to the problem of who owns the data encryption keys required to decrypt the data. Currently, cloud service providers, rather than users, have full rights to the key. In practical terms this makes the users lose full control over their data. Trust and uptake of these applications can be increased by allowing patients to feel in control of their data, generally stored in cloud-based services. Objective: This paper addresses this security challenge by providing the user a way of controlling encryption keys independently of the cloud service provider. We provide a secure and usable system that enables a patient to share health information with doctors and specialists. Methods: We contribute a secure protocol for patients to share their data with doctors and others on the cloud while keeping complete ownership. We developed a simple, stereotypical health application and carried out security tests, performance tests, and usability tests with both students and doctors (N=15). Results: We developed the health application as an app for Android mobile phones. We carried out the usability tests on potential participants and medical professionals. Of 20 participants, 14 (70%) either agreed or strongly agreed that they felt safer using our system. Using mixed methods, we show that participants agreed that privacy and security of health data are important and that our system addresses these issues. Conclusions: We presented a security protocol that enables patients to securely share their eHealth data with doctors and nurses and developed a secure and usable system that enables patients to share mental health information with doctors.

  • Source:, CC0 Licensed, Public Domain; modified by authors.

    A Legal Framework to Support Development and Assessment of Digital Health Services


    Background: Digital health services empower people to track, manage, and improve their own health and quality of life while delivering a more personalized and precise health care, at a lower cost and with higher efficiency and availability. Essential for the use of digital health services is that the treatment of any personal data is compatible with the Patient Data Act, Personal Data Act, and other applicable privacy laws. Objective: The aim of this study was to develop a framework for legal challenges to support designers in development and assessment of digital health services. Methods: A purposive sampling, together with snowball recruitment, was used to identify stakeholders and information sources for organizing, extending, and prioritizing the different concepts, actors, and regulations in relation to digital health and health-promoting digital systems. The data were collected through structured interviewing and iteration, and 3 different cases were used for face validation of the framework. Results: A framework for assessing the legal challenges in developing digital health services (Legal Challenges in Digital Health [LCDH] Framework) was created and consists of 6 key questions to be used to evaluate a digital health service according to current legislation. Conclusions: Structured discussion about legal challenges in relation to health-promoting digital services can be enabled by a constructive framework to investigate, assess, and verify the digital service according to current legislation. The LCDH Framework developed in this study proposes such a framework and can be used in prospective evaluation of the relationship of a potential health-promoting digital service with the existing laws and regulations

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  • E-Health Equity: Current Perspectives

    Date Submitted: Aug 8, 2016

    Open Peer Review Period: Aug 11, 2016 - Oct 6, 2016

    Health justice is something that every country in the world needs. However, the existence of health disparities among different social groups and geographical regions in various countries of the world...

    Health justice is something that every country in the world needs. However, the existence of health disparities among different social groups and geographical regions in various countries of the world is inevitable. These health inequalities are a major obstacle in achieving health justice. There are a number of factors affecting health equity such as socio-economic status, education level, geographical position, racial and ethnical differences, gender minorities, environmental factors, accessibility level to health care services and resources, and also the quality of health care. Although e-health has the potential of eliminating health inequalities leading to the establishment of health justice, it is essential that governments and health policy makers provide some measures to diminish major barriers facing the society members specially the elderly, low-income people, low-educated people, and disabled people when implementing it. This can result in attaining the advantages of e-health for establishing health equity.