gms | German Medical Science

MAINZ//2011: 56. GMDS-Jahrestagung und 6. DGEpi-Jahrestagung

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie e. V.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie e. V.

26. - 29.09.2011 in Mainz

Smooth migration instead of forced integration: A real-time ERP system for medical supply centers and networked practices

Meeting Abstract

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  • Gregor Endler - Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen
  • Michael Langer - Astrum IT, Erlangen
  • Jörg Purucker - Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen
  • Richard Lenz - Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen

Mainz//2011. 56. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (gmds), 6. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie (DGEpi). Mainz, 26.-29.09.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc11gmds452

doi: 10.3205/11gmds452, urn:nbn:de:0183-11gmds4524

Published: September 20, 2011

© 2011 Endler et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Introduction: In cooperative environments like medical supply centers, the new role of clinical practice manager, who is responsible for supervision and controlling of the center’s financial development, creates new demands on IT infrastructure: The insular information systems of all participating practices must be incorporated in one consolidate overview. These needs, being completely new to the sector, are not adequately supported by current information systems. The traditional approach to integration of heterogeneous database systems is the ETL process in data warehousing [1]. While safe and well known, this method leads to a very high upfront effort for semantic integration as well as systems mostly resistant to change. This article introduces a BMBF supported joint project by the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (Chair for Data Management and Chair of Information Systems II) and the software company Astrum IT. The project is aimed at conceptualizing and developing an ERP system for medical supply centers which minimizes the efforts for interconnecting autonomous systems and supports step by step continuous improvement of IT supported cooperation.

Material and Methods: Since resolving semantic heterogeneity is expensive, we investigated how an approach motivated by dataspaces [2], allowing coexistence of heterogeneous data sources, could serve as an integration platform. In cooperation with several physicians, a broad spectrum of use cases was identified. The core data needs for the administrative use cases were identified. Methods for continuous Data Quality Management were analyzed and adapted to the particular needs in this project.

Results: We developed a core database schema for a central database, which serves as a basis for multiple applications providing a spectrum of enterprise resource planning functionality for medical supply centers. Additional data needs are addressed in a pay-as-you-go manner [3], gradually improving with the help of user feedback. To support demand-driven step by step improvement we developed a system architecture, complemented by a metadata repository aimed at data quality measuring and monitoring inspired by the TDQM (Total data quality management) approach [4]. The necessary metrics and mechanisms are a major part of our ongoing work.

Another important consideration is the system’s capability to evolve over time with minimal effort [5]. This includes extending the database by generic database tables as well as mechanisms that allow handling of inconsistent, inaccurate or incomplete data within the central database.

Conclusion: We presented preliminary results of an ongoing project organized within the “Spitzencluster Medical Valley EMN”, running from July 2010 to June 2013.


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