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Abstract

Healthcare processes are frequently fragmented and often badly supported with IT. Inter- and intra-organizational communication and media frictions complicate the continuous provision of information according to the principle of information logistics. Based on extensive literature review, we present the vision of seamless healthcare with horizontally and vertically integrated healthcare processes enabled by seamless IT support. Its implementation requires the establishment of a communication infrastructure and the deployment of adequate standards in healthcare. There are already comprehensive approaches for dealing with integrating heterogeneous information systems. However, they lack a common communication infrastructure and do not support proactivity and flexibility which are dominant characteristics in healthcare. We propose a software agent-based approach for realizing the vision of seamless healthcare. We present a corresponding implementation for integrating heterogeneous information systems in the context of the German Health Telematics Infrastructure. Based on the concept and the implementation, we show that the modular approach is capable of supporting a wide range of different applications. We furthermore outline which facets of an agent-based solution could be implemented in an operative real-world environment. In closing we derive implications for IT decision makers in healthcare and show directions for future approaches for reducing information logistics related deficits in healthcare.

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