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The storage, retrieval, and communication of information are key features of both the practice of medicine and the administration of health care. This paper describes a COmputer-STored Ambulatory Record (COSTAR) which replaces the traditional document-based patient medical record with a comprehensive, centralized, and integrated information system. COSTAR meets both the medical care and the financial/administrative needs of a variety of different medical practices (whether fee-for-service or prepaid) and can be implemented and operated without on-site programming support. COSTAR has a modular design to facilitate phased implementation, and uses a comprehensive dictionary of terms to standardize and store data. The physician records medical, administrative, and financial information on a single source document (the encounter form); data are input by clerical personnel; information is retrieved via different computer-generated displays and printouts which automatically select and organize the data. The system provides a High-level language which allows the user to access the database from a logical point of view and perform searches or prepare reports without programming support. COSTAR is available on minicomputers using commercially supported software and will be marketed by commercial organizations.