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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient practice of medicine that uses alternative approaches such as herbal medicine, mind and body practices and procedures/activities such as acupuncture and tai chi as prevention and curative approaches. Practiced in China for thousands of years as the primary system of care, TCM is also gaining traction in the United States as a complementary health approach.

In China, leading hospitals are using both TCM and western allopathic medicine in patient care. This brings challenges of maintaining health care data in an electronic record that can be shared and analyzed. To address this issue, IBM launched in 2009 a new suite of healthcare information at the Guang Dong Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in Guang Zhou, China.

Dubbed as the Clinical and Health Records Analytics and Sharing (CHAS) suite, it offered the breakthrough of integrating records that overcome the differences in theory, diagnosis and treatment of the Eastern and Western practice modalities to facitate a standardized system amenable to complex data analysis.

The key objectives of CHAS were to:

1. provide a reference implementation of an open, standards-based interoperable EMR solution for a patient-centric system of managing and sharing clinical information

2. help standardize medical records to streamline healthcare analytics for medical research and quality assurance

3. enable improvements in the efficiency of clinical services through the interoperable sharing of patient records across branches and regional health institutions

4. lower the technical barriers of adopting internationally recognized standards for the healthcare industry

The goal of the initiative was to technically innovate a solution for integration of patient-centric processes and facilitate sharing of health data between hospital departments and eventually facilities external to the hospital.