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The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) supports multiple basic science consortia that generate high-content datasets, reagent resources, and methodologies, in the fields of kidney, urology, hematology, digestive, and endocrine diseases, as well as metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. These currently include the Beta Cell Biology Consortium, the Nuclear Receptor Signaling Atlas, the Diabetic Complications Consortium, and the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Centers. Recognizing the synergy that would accrue from aggregating information generated and curated by these initiatives in a contiguous informatics network, we created the NIDDK Consortium Interconnectivity Network (dkCOIN; www.dkcoin.org). The goal of this pilot project, organized by the NIDDK, was to establish a single point of access to a toolkit of interconnected resources (datasets, reagents, and protocols) generated from individual consortia that could be readily accessed by biologists of diverse backgrounds and research interests. During the pilot phase of this activity dkCOIN collected nearly 2000 consortium-curated resources, including datasets (functional genomics) and reagents (mouse strains, antibodies, and adenoviral constructs) and built nearly 3000 resource-to-resource connections, thereby demonstrating the feasibility of further extending this database in the future. Thus, dkCOIN promises to be a useful informatics solution for rapidly identifying useful resources generated by participating research consortia.
Achieving evidence-based practice will require new approaches to providing information during health care delivery and to integrating evidence and informatics at the point of care. To support evidence-based practice, Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Eskind Biomedical Library (EBL) introduced the role of clinical informationist, an information specialist with sufficient knowledge and insight to function as a true partner in the health care team. To further disseminate evidence-based knowledge, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center's (VUMC) electronic medical record system and pathway development processes integrate advanced information synthesis capabilities provided by clinical informationists. Combining clinical informationist expertise with informatics tools is an effective strategy for delivering the evidence needed to support patient care decisions.
Diffusing knowledge management practices within an organization encourages and facilitates reuse of the institution's knowledge commodity. Following knowledge management practices, the Eskind Biomedical Library (EBL) has created a Digital Library that uses a holistic approach for integration of information and skills to best represent both explicit and tacit knowledge inherent in libraries. EBL's Digital Library exemplifies a clear attempt to organize institutional knowledge in the field of librarianship, in an effort to positively impact clinical, research, and educational processes in the medical center.
While clinical healthcare systems may have lagged behind computer applications in other fields in the shift from mainframes to client-server architectures, the rapid deployment of newer applications is closing that gap. Organizations considering the transition to client-server must identify and position themselves to provide the resources necessary to implement and support the infrastructure requirements of client-server architectures and to manage the accelerated complexity at the desktop, including hardware and software deployment, training, and maintenance needs. This paper describes an information resources assessment of the recently aligned Pennsylvania regional Veterans Administration Stars and Stripes Health Network (VISN4), in anticipation of the shift from a predominantly mainframe to a client-server information systems architecture in its well-established VistA clinical information system. The multimethod assessment study is described here to demonstrate this approach and its value to regional healthcare networks undergoing organizational integration and/or significant information technology transformations.