Introduction: Documentation as well as IT-based management of medical data is of ever-increasing relevance in modern medicine. As radiation oncology is a rather technical, data-driven discipline, standardization, and data exchange are in principle possible. We examined electronic healthcare documents to extract structured information. Planning CT order entry documents were chosen for the analysis, as this covers a common and structured step in radiation oncology, for which standardized documentation may be achieved. The aim was to examine the extent to which relevant information may be exchanged among different institutions. Materials and Methods: We contacted representatives of nine radiation oncology departments. Departments using standardized electronic documentation for planning CT were asked to provide templates of their records, which were analyzed in terms of form and content. Structured information was extracted by identifying definite common data elements, containing explicit information. Relevant common data elements were identified and classified. A quantitative analysis was performed to evaluate the possibility of data exchange. Results: We received data of seven documents that were heterogeneous regarding form and content. 181 definite common data elements considered relevant for the planning CT were identified and assorted into five semantic groups. 139 data elements (76.8%) were present in only one document. The other 42 data elements were present in two to six documents, while none was shared among all seven documents. Conclusion: Structured and interoperable documentation of medical information can be achieved using common data elements. Our analysis showed that a lot of information recorded with healthcare documents can be presented with this approach. Yet, in the analyzed cohort of planning CT order entries, only a few common data elements were shared among the majority of documents. A common vocabulary and consensus upon relevant information is required to promote interoperability and standardization.

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