Doc@Hand aims to deliver knowledge sharing and decision support for health care professionals

Milano 24 February 2004A new Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) project, funded under the information society technologies (IST) priority, will design a set of IT tools to support health care professionals. The aim of the project is to facilitate information gathering for a more informed decision-making process with regard to diagnoses, therapies and protocols. The project, called Doc@Hand, was launched in January 2004 and will have a duration of 30 months. It is supported by the European Commission with a budget of nearly 2,3 million euro.

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At present, there is increasing pressure on health care professionals. Indeed, the health care industry has to deal with a multitude of actors involved in the care delivery processes, rapid decentralisation, a shortage of resources and a need to reduce costs. This scenario means it is increasingly important for professionals to collaborate, access and share data and knowledge.

Doc@Hand will contribute by reducing the time needed to collect data, as well as by reducing the costs associated with the lack of timely information. The project will also increase the quality of the decision-making process through prompt availability of relevant and complete data.

Doc@Hand will develop, test and validate an application for transparent access to databases all over Europe by integrating decision support systems. The project will enable a pro-active search for information in the databases of co-operating organisations using "push" technologies instead of the traditional "pull" approach. The user will be able to find relevant information without having to perform an explicit search. This will be based on domain ontology as well as static and dynamic information about the user profile.

Furthermore, the user will be provided with representation tools and intuitive interfaces to easily filter and navigate through the information and to extract knowledge from unstructured and semi-structured documents. Doc@Hand will allow virtual communities to be created for exchanging opinions around patients or scientific issues, with transparent access to heterogeneous and geographically dispersed databases.

"The integrated environment developed will be accessible from portable platforms such as tablet PCs to support the increasing mobility of health care professionals and will be validated by major clinical institutions for full adherence to standards and regulations for security and sensitive data handling", explained Salvatore Virtuoso from TXT e-Solutions, one of the eight partners in the consortium.

The other parnters are British Maritime Technologies LTD, United Kingdom; Emphasis Systems AE, Greece; NOMOS Sistema SpA, Italy; SSM Computer Systems LTD, Cyprus; Hospital Clinic I Provincial de Barcelona, Spain; Guy's and St. Thomas Hospital National Health Service Trust, United Kingdom; and Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy. Three pilot programmes, in Barcelona and London, will soon be set up to test the new tools. For more information, you can visit the Doc@Hand Web site.


Leslie Versweyveld

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