Archetype-Based Electronic Health Records: A Literature Review and Evaluation of Their Applicability to Health Data Interoperability and Access Academic Article uri icon


  • Health Information Managers (HIMs) are responsible for overseeing health information. The change management necessary during the transition to electronic health records (EHR) is substantial, and ongoing. Archetype-based EHRs are a core health information system component which solve many of the problems that arise during this period of change. Archetypes are models of clinical content, and they have many beneficial properties. They are interoperable, both between settings and through time. They are more amenable to change than conventional paradigms, and their design is congruent with clinical practice. This paper is an overview of the current archetype literature relevant to Health Information Managers. The literature was sourced in the English language sections of ScienceDirect, IEEE Explore, Pubmed, Google Scholar, ACM Digital library and other databases on the usage of archetypes for electronic health record storage, looking at the current areas of archetype research, appropriate usage, and future research. We also used reference lists from the cited papers, papers referenced by the openEHR website, and the recommendations from experts in the area. Criteria for inclusion were (a) if studies covered archetype research and (b) were either studies of archetype use, archetype system design, or archetype effectiveness. The 47 papers included show a wide and increasing worldwide archetype usage, in a variety of medical domains. Most of the papers noted that archetypes are an appropriate solution for future-proof and interoperable medical data storage. We conclude that archetypes are a suitable solution for the complex problem of electronic health record storage and interoperability.

publication date

  • June 2009