Regenstrief Institute receives World Health Organization designation

February 20, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS -- The World Health Organization has designated the Regenstrief Institute's medical informatics group as the world's first WHO Collaborating Center for Medical Informatics.

The four-year designation, given for the "design, application, and research of medical information systems," is recognition of the international leadership and depth of expertise of the Institute's medical informatics group in the innovative use of information technology within medicine. This formal designation enables the WHO to more directly draw upon these capabilities by making the Institute part of a larger international collaboration of experts.

"Around the world, whether in resource-scarce or other environments, information systems are being recognized as a basic building block for effective health care," said Thomas S. Inui, ScM, MD. "We are eager to join with the global community in the effort to develop appropriate technology in this critical sector."

Regenstrief Institute research scientist Paul Biondich, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, has been named director of the center.

Critical to the WHO collaboration is the Institute's groundbreaking work on open source community development within resource-constrained environments. Dr. Biondich and Regenstrief Institute research scientist Burke Mamlin, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine, co-founded OpenMRS, the Open Medical Record System, which has grown into an international community focused upon bringing efficient information management to health-care providers in resource-constrained environments. The primary product of this work is a freely available open-source electronic medical record system which enables physicians and other health-care providers in countries with limited resources to provide better informed medical treatment and patient follow-up.

OpenMRS has been implemented in over 15 countries, including reference sites in Kenya and Rwanda, and is responsible for maintaining the health information of approximately two million patients.

Additional areas of focus within the center will draw upon Regenstrief expertise in standardized health terminology development, decision support systems, community-wide health information exchange, and automated patient record matching strategies. The center will also take a key partnership role with the WHO in the planning, conduction and dissemination of research to improve health-care quality.

"We are honored by the WHO's invitation to participate in activities which we believe will have a significant impact in the health-care quality for people throughout the world. We intend to fully take advantage of this opportunity by disseminating the many lessons learned at Regenstrief over the past 30 years, and by continuing to develop innovations in medical informatics not only within central Indiana but throughout the rest of the world," said Dr. Biondich.

Designation as a WHO collaborating center provides institutions with enhanced visibility and recognition, calling public attention to the health issues on which they work. It opens opportunities to exchange information and develop technical cooperation with other institutions, in particular at the international level, and to mobilize resources from funding partners.
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The Regenstrief Institute, an internationally recognized informatics and health-care research organization, is dedicated to the improvement of health through research that enhances the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care. Established in Indianapolis by philanthropist Sam Regenstrief in 1969 on the campus of the Indiana University School of Medicine, the Institute is supported by the Regenstrief Foundation and closely affiliated with the I.U. School of Medicine and the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indiana. Regenstrief Institute research scientists form a highly respected cadre of health services researchers linked to one of the largest and most comprehensive medical informatics laboratories in the world. www.regenstrief.org.

Indiana University

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