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During a year of major transitions, one of the chief milestones — and one of the
most complex — was the changeover from MIS, the hospital’s original Medical
Information System, to CRIS, the hospital’s powerful new Clinical Research
Information System. With the active involvement of clinical leaders from the
institutes, the core medical information system at the heart of CRIS went live on
August 23, replacing patient-care functions that for 28 years had been handled by
MIS. The culmination of the first phase of a $60-million effort, the project was
within budget and was delayed only three weeks from the scheduled activation date.
In 2002 the Clinical Center accepted bids for development of a clinical research
information system to replace MIS. Dr. Stephen Rosenfeld led the development team
and Dr. Cliff Lane, clinical director of NIAID, headed the steering committee.
“A hospital information system is essentially a tool kit for building a model of how
your hospital should operate,” says Dr. Rosenfeld. “These systems don’t come with
a starter set. You have to design almost everything from scratch, from where orders
go and what orders look like to how things are used.” CRIS will serve as a national
model for how to build such systems.
There was a strong feeling of NIH community during the time leading up to the
launch, says Dr. Lane. “I think everyone bonded as an NIH community, because
everyone knew how important this is, particularly to the safety and the care of the
CRIS represents the next generation of medical information technology. The second
phase of the CRIS project includes a data warehouse, capable of storing and merging
clinical and research information. The data warehouse will collect longitudinal
patient data for use in research (while protecting patient privacy and confidentiality).
In 2004 the Clinical Center inaugurated a new tool called ProtoType, to help author
and manage protocols. Two institutes, NHLBI and NEI, were the first to require use
of Prototype in their intramural clinical research programs. The ProtoType system
was also installed at Rockefeller University in the fall of 2004 as part of a reciprocal
effort to build new tools to facilitate clinical research.