Lightweight application for generating clinical research information systems: MAGIC
Background: Our purpose was to build and test a lightweight solution for generating clinical research information systems (CRIS) that would allow non-IT professionals with basic knowledge of computer usage to quickly define and build a ready-to-use, safe and secure web-based clinical research system for data management. We use the acronym MAGIC (Medical Application Generator InteraCtive) for the system.
Methods: The generated CRIS should be very easy to build and use, so a common LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL Perl) platform was used, which also enables short development cycles. The application was built and tested using eXtreme Programming (XP) principles by a small development team consisting of one informatics specialist, one physician and one graphical designer/programmer.
Results: The parameter and graphical user interface (GUI) definitions for the CRIS can be made by non-IT professionals using an intuitive English-language-like formalism called application definition language (ADL). From these definitions, the MAGIC builds an end-user CRIS that can be used on a wide variety of platforms (from standard workstations to hand-held devices). A working example of a national health-care-quality assessment program is presented to illustrate this process.
Conclusion: The lightweight application for generating CRIS (MAGIC) has proven to be useful for both clinical and analytical users in real working environment. To achieve better performance and interoperability, we are planning to recompile the application using XML schemas (XSD) in HL7 CDA or openEHR archetypes formats used for parameters definition and for data interchange between different information systems.