The Basics: Definition of Terms

See below for basic terms and definitions provided by Rob Ferre and Chrisitan Dameff

AD = Active Directory. A directory of users within an IT network that allows IT administrators to grant access and permissions to different applications within an IT system. AD is a proprietary Microsoft product for use within Microsoft applications.

ADT = Admission, Discharge, Transfer. A system that contains information about a particular patient, including name, MRN and their location in the system (admitted, discharged or transferred).

API = Application Programing Interface. An interface between 2 different software programs that allows them to communicate with each other.

BAA = Business Associate Agreement. An agreement between a healthcare entity and a vendor where protected health information must be shared in the course of doing business. A BAA is a HIPAA requirement and ensures protected health information is being shared according to industry standards.

DICOM = Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine. DICOM is both a standard file format and a network protocol that allows images to be transferred between different devices within a medical system.

HL7 = Health Level 7. Standards for transferring/sharing information between software systems within a healthcare network.

LDAP = Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. A network protocol that accesses the network system’s directory where usernames and passwords are stored. This is how a username (and the permissions a user has in that system) is authenticated by an application on the network.

Middleware. Software that acts as a bridge between two systems.

Modality Worklist. Allows an imaging modality (e.g. ultrasound machine) to query a database of actively registered patients.

MDM = Mobile Device Management. Security software that allows an organizations IT security team to monitor, secure and manage a user's mobile device.

ORM = Order Message. A type of HL7 message requesting a service or material.

ORU = Observation Result Message. A type of HL7 message containing the results of a test (lab, imaging study, etc).

PACS = Picture Archive and Communications System. A system that stores and transmits medical imaging files from different imaging modalities (e.g. CT, MRI, US). It receives and transmits information using a DICOM format.

SSO = Single Sign On. Is an authentication method that allows users to access multiple different applications with just one set of credentials (i.e. username and password).

Vendor Neutral Archive (aka Enterprise Image Archive). A VNA is a medical imaging technology that stores images in a non-proprietary way. While similar to a PACS, it can also receive images (such as photographs from a wound care clinic) that do not have to follow a very specific workflow process that a PACS system generally requires.