Seminar on: "Modelling, designing and implementing information technology tools for personalized Healthcare"
Stefano Bonacina
Dipartimento di Bioingegneria, Politecnico di Milano

DEI - Seminar Room
April 20th, 2010


In personalized Health (pHealth) research area, we can identify two complimentary action lines: the first, regards how to make more personalized to the patient what the healthcare system does; the second, regards how to make the patient more actively, but sustainably involved for the higher effectiveness of their healthcare. According to the second action line, as far as the healthcare at the household is concerned, there is a perception we can explain with the following question: as consumers already do home banking and e-commerce, why not doing some more in home e-health, too? Since decades, in a multigenerational family, the middle generation has taken care of health documents, also for the preceding and for the next generations. Now, the empowered knowledge in information technology, diffused within the families regardless of healthcare, ensures the multigenerational family a certain level of "digital inclusion" asking for family-and consumer-tuned new e-health products and services.
In the first part of the seminar, "Historia Medica Familiae Digitalis" (HMFD) an electronic personal health record (PHR) system designed and developed for storing family health documents is described in terms of software engineering approach from requirements collection to test phases.
However, the dissemination and use of patient- and consumer-centred health record systems face with some barriers. While it is important to present health information using consumer-familiar terms in consumer applications, unambiguously and consistently converting medical terms to consumer-familiar terms is a challenging task. The second part of the seminar describes the design and the development a software tool - named "Lexicon Camera"- aimed to detect quantitatively medical terms used into healthcare news, or articles - native as online textual files - devoted to consumers. In addition, the results of some tests of data enquiring to infer about medical lexicon knowledge, as the first step to build a consumer health vocabulary in Italian language, are presented.
While discrepancy in understanding medical concepts affects therapy adherence too, a consumer medical lexicon can bridging the gap describing the content of medical reports also containing coded information or clinical results by "living room" words. According to this purpose, in the third part of the seminar an ontology-based approach is described. A "Lexicon Connecter" has been modeled, designed, and developed based on an ontology-like taxonomic structure devoted to the Geriatrics domain for the outpatient. It carries out the matching between the medical vocabulary of the doctor and that of the consumer from the outpatient's and their family point of view.
As disparities in access to and use of computers, the Internet, and PHRs may exacerbate health care inequality in the future, the development and diffusion of new information technology services devoted to improve personalized healthcare would enhance family and consumers healthcare at home, supporting not only specific pathological situations requiring home assistance, but also the daily management of an healthy lifestyle.

Letizia Tanca

Research area:
Web, multimedia and databases