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Standard Formats for Electronic Transfer of Clinical Data

Clement J. McDonald, MD; and William E. Hammond, PhD
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Grant Support: Supported in part by grants HS-04996 and HS-05626.

Requests for Reprints: Clement J. McDonald, MD, Regenstrief Institute for Health Care, 1001 W. 10th Street, 5th Floor, Indianapolis, IN 46202.

Ann Intern Med. 1989;110(5):333-335. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-110-5-333
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Technical progress depends on standards. Standards for gauge and size make it possible to thread nuts onto bolts. Standards for voltage and frequency permit the use of an electrical appliance anywhere in the United States. Standards for laboratory reagents assure us that test results are consistent over time. Standards have spawned entire industries. The UPC bar codes—the black and white stripes you see on all grocery products—and the MIDI music interface standard ( 1 ) are examples. In general, standards let us mix and match components, create large assemblies from many parts, and communicate efficiently.

The absence of standards hinders


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