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 2014: 3.4), 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:

  • Electronic consultations.

    Disruptive Innovation: Implementation of Electronic Consultations in a Veterans Affairs Health Care System


    Background: Electronic consultations (e-consults) offer rapid access to specialist input without the need for a patient visit. E-consult implementation began in 2011 at VA Boston Healthcare System (VABHS). By early 2013, e-consults were available for all clinical services. In this implementation, the requesting clinician selects the desired consultation within the electronic health record (EHR) ordering menu, which creates an electronic form that is pre-populated with patient demographic information and allows free-text entry of the reason for consult. This triggers a message to the requesting clinician and requested specialty, thereby enabling bidirectional clinician-clinician communication. Objective: The aim of this study is to examine the utilization of e-consults in a large Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. Methods: Data from the electronic health record was used to measure frequency of e-consult use by provider type (physician or nurse practitioner (NP) and/or physician assistant), and by the requesting and responding specialty from January 2012 to December 2013. We conducted chart reviews for a purposive sample of e-consults and semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of clinicians and hospital leaders to better characterize the process, challenges, and usability of e-consults. Results: A total of 7097 e-consults were identified, 1998 from 2012 and 5099 from 2013. More than one quarter (27.56%, 1956/7097) of the e-consult requests originated from VA facilities in New England other than VABHS and were excluded from subsequent analysis. Within the VABHS e-consults (72.44%, 5141/7097), variability in frequency and use of e-consults across provider types and specialties was found. A total of 64 NPs requested 2407 e-consults (median 12.5, range 1-415). In contrast, 448 physicians (including residents and fellows) requested 2349 e-consults (median 2, range 1-116). More than one third (37.35%, 1920/5141) of e-consults were sent from primary care to specialists. While most e-consults reflected a request for specialist input to a generalist’s question in diagnosis or management in the ambulatory setting, we identified creative uses of e-consults, including requests for face-to-face appointments and documentation of pre-operative chart reviews; moreover, 7.00% (360/5141) of the e-consults originated from our sub-acute and chronic care inpatient units. In interviews, requesting providers reported high utility and usability. Specialists recognized the value of e-consults but expressed concerns about additional workload. Conclusions: The e-consult mechanism is frequently utilized for its initial intended purpose. It has also been adopted for unexpected clinical and administrative uses, developing into a “disruptive innovation” and highlighting existing gaps in mechanisms for provider communication. Further investigation is needed to characterize optimal utilization of e-consults within specialty and the medical center, and what features of the e-consult program, other than volume, represent valid measures of access and quality care.

  • This photo depicts a physician discussing health records, including medication history, with a female patient. Photo is copyright Monkey Business Images and released to the authors by Shutterstock, Inc. ( Signed model and property releases filed with Shutterstock, Inc.

    Integration of Provider, Pharmacy, and Patient-Reported Data to Improve Medication Adherence for Type 2 Diabetes: A Controlled Before-After Pilot Study


    Background: Patients with diabetes often have poor adherence to using medications as prescribed. The reasons why, however, are not well understood. Furthermore, most health care delivery processes do not routinely assess medication adherence or the factors that contribute to poor adherence. Objective: The objective of the study was to assess the feasibility of an integrated informatics approach to aggregating and displaying clinically relevant data with the potential to identify issues that may interfere with appropriate medication utilization and facilitate patient-provider communication during clinical encounters about strategies to improve medication use. Methods: We developed a clinical dashboard within an electronic health record (EHR) system that uses data from three sources: the medical record, pharmacy claims, and a patient portal. Next, we implemented the dashboard into three community health centers. Health care providers (n=15) and patients with diabetes (n=96) were enrolled in a before-after pilot to test the system’s impact on medication adherence and clinical outcomes. To measure adherence, we calculated the proportion of days covered using pharmacy claims. Demographic, laboratory, and visit data from the EHR were analyzed using pairwise t tests. Perceived barriers to adherence were self-reported by patients. Providers were surveyed about their use and perceptions of the clinical dashboard. Results: Adherence significantly and meaningfully improved (improvements ranged from 6%-20%) consistently across diabetes as well as cardiovascular drug classes. Clinical outcomes, including HbA1c, blood pressure, lipid control, and emergency department utilization remained unchanged. Only a quarter of patients (n=24) logged into the patient portal and completed psychosocial questionnaires about their barriers to taking medications. Conclusions: Integrated approaches using advanced EHR, clinical decision support, and patient-controlled technologies show promise for improving appropriate medication use and supporting better management of chronic conditions. Future research and development is necessary to design, implement, and integrate the myriad of EHR and clinical decision support systems as well as patient-focused information systems into routine care and patient processes that together support health and well-being.

  • Fully automated measurement of subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue in the entire abdominal region from commuted tomography.

    Computerized Automated Quantification of Subcutaneous and Visceral Adipose Tissue From Computed Tomography Scans: Development and Validation Study


    Background: Computed tomography (CT) is often viewed as one of the most accurate methods for measuring visceral adipose tissue (VAT). However, measuring VAT and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) from CT is a time-consuming and tedious process. Thus, evaluating patients’ obesity levels during clinical trials using CT scans is both cumbersome and limiting. Objective: To describe an image-processing-based and automated method for measuring adipose tissue in the entire abdominal region. Methods: The method detects SAT and VAT levels using a separation mask based on muscles of the human body. The separation mask is the region that minimizes the unnecessary space between a closed path and muscle area. In addition, a correction mask, based on bones, corrects the error in VAT. Results: To validate the method, the volume of total adipose tissue (TAT), SAT, and VAT were measured for a total of 100 CTs using the automated method, and the results compared with those from manual measurements obtained by 2 experts. Dice’s similarity coefficients (DSCs) between the first manual measurement and the automated result for TAT, SAT, and VAT are 0.99, 0.98, and 0.97, respectively. The DSCs between the second manual measurement and the automated result for TAT, SAT, and VAT are 0.98, 0.98, and 0.97, respectively. Moreover, intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) between the automated method and the results of the manual measurements indicate high reliability as the ICCs for the items are all .99 (P<.001). Conclusions: The results described in this paper confirm the accuracy and reliability of the proposed method. The method is expected to be both convenient and useful in the clinical evaluation and study of obesity in patients who require SAT and VAT measurements.

  • TOC Image.
Credit: Image created by the first author

    The Impact of Information Technology on Patient Engagement and Health Behavior Change: A Systematic Review of the Literature


    Background: Advancements in information technology (IT) and its increasingly ubiquitous nature expand the ability to engage patients in the health care process and motivate health behavior change. Objective: Our aim was to systematically review the (1) impact of IT platforms used to promote patients’ engagement and to effect change in health behaviors and health outcomes, (2) behavior theories or models applied as bases for developing these interventions and their impact on health outcomes, (3) different ways of measuring health outcomes, (4) usability, feasibility, and acceptability of these technologies among patients, and (5) challenges and research directions for implementing IT platforms to meaningfully impact patient engagement and health outcomes. Methods: PubMed, Web of Science, PsycINFO, and Google Scholar were searched for studies published from 2000 to December 2014. Two reviewers assessed the quality of the included papers, and potentially relevant studies were retrieved and assessed for eligibility based on predetermined inclusion criteria. Results: A total of 170 articles met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed in detail. Overall, 88.8% (151/170) of studies showed positive impact on patient behavior and 82.9% (141/170) reported high levels of improvement in patient engagement. Only 47.1% (80/170) referenced specific behavior theories and only 33.5% (57/170) assessed the usability of IT platforms. The majority of studies used indirect ways to measure health outcomes (65.9%, 112/170). Conclusions: In general, the review has shown that IT platforms can enhance patient engagement and improve health outcomes. Few studies addressed usability of these interventions, and the reason for not using specific behavior theories remains unclear. Further research is needed to clarify these important questions. In addition, an assessment of these types of interventions should be conducted based on a common framework using a large variety of measurements; these measurements should include those related to motivation for health behavior change, long-standing adherence, expenditure, satisfaction, and health outcomes.

  • Health information exchange (from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, Washington, DC,

    Outcomes From Health Information Exchange: Systematic Review and Future Research Needs


    Background: Health information exchange (HIE), the electronic sharing of clinical information across the boundaries of health care organizations, has been promoted to improve the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, quality, and safety of health care delivery. Objective: To systematically review the available research on HIE outcomes and analyze future research needs. Methods: Data sources included citations from selected databases from January 1990 to February 2015. We included English-language studies of HIE in clinical or public health settings in any country. Data were extracted using dual review with adjudication of disagreements. Results: We identified 34 studies on outcomes of HIE. No studies reported on clinical outcomes (eg, mortality and morbidity) or identified harms. Low-quality evidence generally finds that HIE reduces duplicative laboratory and radiology testing, emergency department costs, hospital admissions (less so for readmissions), and improves public health reporting, ambulatory quality of care, and disability claims processing. Most clinicians attributed positive changes in care coordination, communication, and knowledge about patients to HIE. Conclusions: Although the evidence supports benefits of HIE in reducing the use of specific resources and improving the quality of care, the full impact of HIE on clinical outcomes and potential harms are inadequately studied. Future studies must address comprehensive questions, use more rigorous designs, and employ a standard for describing types of HIE. Trial Registration: PROSPERO Registry No CRD42014013285; display_record.asp?ID=CRD42014013285 (Archived by WebCite at

  • Text Messaging smartphone. Taken from URL:

    Resident Use of Text Messaging for Patient Care: Ease of Use or Breach of Privacy?


    Background: Short message service (SMS) text messaging is an efficient form of communication and pervasive in health care, but may not securely protect patient information. It is unclear if resident providers are aware of the security concerns of SMS text messaging when communicating about patient care. Objective: We sought to compare residents’ preferences for SMS text messaging compared with other forms of in-hospital communication when considering security versus ease of use. Methods: This study was a cross-sectional multi-institutional survey of internal medicine residents. Residents ranked different communication modalities based on efficiency, ease of use, and security using a Likert scale. Communication options included telephone, email, hospital paging, and SMS text messaging. Respondents also reported whether they had received confidential patient identifiers through any of these modalities. Results: SMS text messaging was preferred by 71.7% (94/131) of respondents because of its efficiency and by 79.8% (103/129) of respondents because of its ease of use. For security, 82.5% (104/126) of respondents preferred the hospital paging system, whereas only 20.6% (26/126) of respondents preferred SMS text messaging for secure communication. In all, 70.9% (93/131) of respondents reported having received patient identifiers (first and/or last name), 81.7% (107/131) reported receiving patient initials, and 50.4% (66/131) reported receiving a patient’s medical record number through SMS text messages. Conclusions: Residents prefer in-hospital communication through SMS text messaging because of its ease of use and efficiency. Despite security concerns, the majority of residents reported receiving confidential patient information through SMS text messaging. For providers, it is possible that the benefits of improved in-hospital communication with SMS text messaging and the presumed improvement in the coordination and delivery of patient care outweigh security concerns they may have. The tension between the security and convenience of SMS text messaging may represent an educational opportunity to ensure the compliance of mobile technology in the health care setting.

  • Artemis in Cloud.
This picture has been created by the Authors. All rights reserved.

    Real-Time and Retrospective Health-Analytics-as-a-Service: A Novel Framework


    Background: Analytics-as-a-service (AaaS) is one of the latest provisions emerging from the cloud services family. Utilizing this paradigm of computing in health informatics will benefit patients, care providers, and governments significantly. This work is a novel approach to realize health analytics as services in critical care units in particular. Objective: To design, implement, evaluate, and deploy an extendable big-data compatible framework for health-analytics-as-a-service that offers both real-time and retrospective analysis. Methods: We present a novel framework that can realize health data analytics-as-a-service. The framework is flexible and configurable for different scenarios by utilizing the latest technologies and best practices for data acquisition, transformation, storage, analytics, knowledge extraction, and visualization. We have instantiated the proposed method, through the Artemis project, that is, a customization of the framework for live monitoring and retrospective research on premature babies and ill term infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Results: We demonstrated the proposed framework in this paper for monitoring NICUs and refer to it as the Artemis-In-Cloud (Artemis-IC) project. A pilot of Artemis has been deployed in the SickKids hospital NICU. By infusing the output of this pilot set up to an analytical model, we predict important performance measures for the final deployment of Artemis-IC. This process can be carried out for other hospitals following the same steps with minimal effort. SickKids’ NICU has 36 beds and can classify the patients generally into 5 different types including surgical and premature babies. The arrival rate is estimated as 4.5 patients per day, and the average length of stay was calculated as 16 days. Mean number of medical monitoring algorithms per patient is 9, which renders 311 live algorithms for the whole NICU running on the framework. The memory and computation power required for Artemis-IC to handle the SickKids NICU will be 32 GB and 16 CPU cores, respectively. The required amount of storage was estimated as 8.6 TB per year. There will always be 34.9 patients in SickKids NICU on average. Currently, 46% of patients cannot get admitted to SickKids NICU due to lack of resources. By increasing the capacity to 90 beds, all patients can be accommodated. For such a provisioning, Artemis-IC will need 16 TB of storage per year, 55 GB of memory, and 28 CPU cores. Conclusions: Our contributions in this work relate to a cloud architecture for the analysis of physiological data for clinical decisions support for tertiary care use. We demonstrate how to size the equipment needed in the cloud for that architecture based on a very realistic assessment of the patient characteristics and the associated clinical decision support algorithms that would be required to run for those patients. We show the principle of how this could be performed and furthermore that it can be replicated for any critical care setting within a tertiary institution.

  • The Center for SUDEP Research (CSR). This image is from a public domain (

    NHash: Randomized N-Gram Hashing for Distributed Generation of Validatable Unique Study Identifiers in Multicenter Research


    Background: A unique study identifier serves as a key for linking research data about a study subject without revealing protected health information in the identifier. While sufficient for single-site and limited-scale studies, the use of common unique study identifiers has several drawbacks for large multicenter studies, where thousands of research participants may be recruited from multiple sites. An important property of study identifiers is error tolerance (or validatable), in that inadvertent editing mistakes during their transmission and use will most likely result in invalid study identifiers. Objective: This paper introduces a novel method called "Randomized N-gram Hashing (NHash)," for generating unique study identifiers in a distributed and validatable fashion, in multicenter research. NHash has a unique set of properties: (1) it is a pseudonym serving the purpose of linking research data about a study participant for research purposes; (2) it can be generated automatically in a completely distributed fashion with virtually no risk for identifier collision; (3) it incorporates a set of cryptographic hash functions based on N-grams, with a combination of additional encryption techniques such as a shift cipher; (d) it is validatable (error tolerant) in the sense that inadvertent edit errors will mostly result in invalid identifiers. Methods: NHash consists of 2 phases. First, an intermediate string using randomized N-gram hashing is generated. This string consists of a collection of N-gram hashes f1, f2, ..., fk. The input for each function fi has 3 components: a random number r, an integer n, and input data m. The result, fi(r, n, m), is an n-gram of m with a starting position s, which is computed as (r mod |m|), where |m| represents the length of m. The output for Step 1 is the concatenation of the sequence f1(r1, n1, m1), f2(r2, n2, m2), ..., fk(rk, nk, mk). In the second phase, the intermediate string generated in Phase 1 is encrypted using techniques such as shift cipher. The result of the encryption, concatenated with the random number r, is the final NHash study identifier. Results: We performed experiments using a large synthesized dataset comparing NHash with random strings, and demonstrated neglegible probability for collision. We implemented NHash for the Center for SUDEP Research (CSR), a National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke-funded Center Without Walls for Collaborative Research in the Epilepsies. This multicenter collaboration involves 14 institutions across the United States and Europe, bringing together extensive and diverse expertise to understand sudden unexpected death in epilepsy patients (SUDEP). Conclusions: The CSR Data Repository has successfully used NHash to link deidentified multimodal clinical data collected in participating CSR institutions, meeting all desired objectives of NHash.

  • Clinician documentation system. Image by Yuan Lai, 2014.

    Disrupting Electronic Health Records Systems: The Next Generation


    The health care system suffers from both inefficient and ineffective use of data. Data are suboptimally displayed to users, undernetworked, underutilized, and wasted. Errors, inefficiencies, and increased costs occur on the basis of unavailable data in a system that does not coordinate the exchange of information, or adequately support its use. Clinicians’ schedules are stretched to the limit and yet the system in which they work exerts little effort to streamline and support carefully engineered care processes. Information for decision-making is difficult to access in the context of hurried real-time workflows. This paper explores and addresses these issues to formulate an improved design for clinical workflow, information exchange, and decision making based on the use of electronic health records.

  • EBMPracticeNet brings the best our scientific community has to offer directly to the medical practice (Copyright by EBMPracticeNet,

    Technology for Large-Scale Translation of Clinical Practice Guidelines: A Pilot Study of the Performance of a Hybrid Human and Computer-Assisted Approach


    Background: The construction of EBMPracticeNet, a national electronic point-of-care information platform in Belgium, began in 2011 to optimize quality of care by promoting evidence-based decision making. The project involved, among other tasks, the translation of 940 EBM Guidelines of Duodecim Medical Publications from English into Dutch and French. Considering the scale of the translation process, it was decided to make use of computer-aided translation performed by certificated translators with limited expertise in medical translation. Our consortium used a hybrid approach, involving a human translator supported by a translation memory (using SDL Trados Studio), terminology recognition (using SDL MultiTerm terminology databases) from medical terminology databases, and support from online machine translation. This resulted in a validated translation memory, which is now in use for the translation of new and updated guidelines. Objective: The objective of this experiment was to evaluate the performance of the hybrid human and computer-assisted approach in comparison with translation unsupported by translation memory and terminology recognition. A comparison was also made with the translation efficiency of an expert medical translator. Methods: We conducted a pilot study in which two sets of 30 new and 30 updated guidelines were randomized to one of three groups. Comparable guidelines were translated (1) by certificated junior translators without medical specialization using the hybrid method, (2) by an experienced medical translator without this support, and (3) by the same junior translators without the support of the validated translation memory. A medical proofreader who was blinded for the translation procedure, evaluated the translated guidelines for acceptability and adequacy. Translation speed was measured by recording translation and post-editing time. The human translation edit rate was calculated as a metric to evaluate the quality of the translation. A further evaluation was made of translation acceptability and adequacy. Results: The average number of words per guideline was 1195 and the mean total translation time was 100.2 minutes/1000 words. No meaningful differences were found in the translation speed for new guidelines. The translation of updated guidelines was 59 minutes/1000 words faster (95% CI 2-115; P=.044) in the computer-aided group. Revisions due to terminology accounted for one third of the overall revisions by the medical proofreader. Conclusions: Use of the hybrid human and computer-aided translation by a non-expert translator makes the translation of updates of clinical practice guidelines faster and cheaper because of the benefits of translation memory. For the translation of new guidelines, there was no apparent benefit in comparison with the efficiency of translation unsupported by translation memory (whether by an expert or non-expert translator).

  • (c) Yi-Ju Tseng.

    A Web-Based, Hospital-Wide Health Care-Associated Bloodstream Infection Surveillance and Classification System: Development and Evaluation


    Background: Surveillance of health care-associated infections is an essential component of infection prevention programs, but conventional systems are labor intensive and performance dependent. Objective: To develop an automatic surveillance and classification system for health care-associated bloodstream infection (HABSI), and to evaluate its performance by comparing it with a conventional infection control personnel (ICP)-based surveillance system. Methods: We developed a Web-based system that was integrated into the medical information system of a 2200-bed teaching hospital in Taiwan. The system automatically detects and classifies HABSIs. Results: In this study, the number of computer-detected HABSIs correlated closely with the number of HABSIs detected by ICP by department (n=20; r=.999 P<.001) and by time (n=14; r=.941; P<.001). Compared with reference standards, this system performed excellently with regard to sensitivity (98.16%), specificity (99.96%), positive predictive value (95.81%), and negative predictive value (99.98%). The system enabled decreasing the delay in confirmation of HABSI cases, on average, by 29 days. Conclusions: This system provides reliable and objective HABSI data for quality indicators, improving the delay caused by a conventional surveillance system.

  • Feature CERT image for homepage.

    Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records: Experiences From the Field and Future Opportunities


    Background: With the aim of improving health care processes through health information technology (HIT), the US government has promulgated requirements for “meaningful use” (MU) of electronic health records (EHRs) as a condition for providers receiving financial incentives for the adoption and use of these systems. Considerable uncertainty remains about the impact of these requirements on the effective application of EHR systems. Objective: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-sponsored Centers for Education and Research in Therapeutics (CERTs) critically examined the impact of the MU policy relating to the use of medications and jointly developed recommendations to help inform future HIT policy. Methods: We gathered perspectives from a wide range of stakeholders (N=35) who had experience with MU requirements, including academicians, practitioners, and policy makers from different health care organizations including and beyond the CERTs. Specific issues and recommendations were discussed and agreed on as a group. Results: Stakeholders’ knowledge and experiences from implementing MU requirements fell into 6 domains: (1) accuracy of medication lists and medication reconciliation, (2) problem list accuracy and the shift in HIT priorities, (3) accuracy of allergy lists and allergy-related standards development, (4) support of safer and effective prescribing for children, (5) considerations for rural communities, and (6) general issues with achieving MU. Standards are needed to better facilitate the exchange of data elements between health care settings. Several organizations felt that their preoccupation with fulfilling MU requirements stifled innovation. Greater emphasis should be placed on local HIT configurations that better address population health care needs. Conclusions: Although MU has stimulated adoption of EHRs, its effects on quality and safety remain uncertain. Stakeholders felt that MU requirements should be more flexible and recognize that integrated models may achieve information-sharing goals in alternate ways. Future certification rules and requirements should enhance EHR functionalities critical for safer prescribing of medications in children.

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