Thinking back to a project I was on a few years ago, the data architecture organization of a pharmaceutical firm was asked to research the feasibility of integrating their sales data warehouse with a data mart that was to be built from their managed health care database. Subsequently, one of the first steps we took was to find a common set of key fields belonging to the two sets of data. To use Ralph Kimball’s data warehouse terms1, we looked for their “common dimensions.” Thus, the dimension tables would become the linkage point between the two sets of data. Intuitively, we knew that one of the most important items that the two databases shared were medical providers (i.e., doctors, dentists, etc.), or what was later to be known as the medical provider dimension.

Figure 1: Linkage between Data Marts or Data Warehouses

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