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Medinfo 2001

Sept. 2-5 2001

A personal review by Rod Ward

The Medinfo 2001 conference is being held at the ExCel Centre in London Sept. 2-5 2001. This site contains my personal review and report, it is intended to help those unable to attend, but is not an official "proceedings". The official conference web site can be accessed at:

Day 1 - Monday Sept. 3rd 2001

The day started with queues for registration and to collect a copy of the conference proceedings. This was followed by setting up our poster space - which was complicated by the fact that the promised power supply for a PC was not available as someone had removed the cables !
Queues for registration
Our poster area
Peter Drury
Peter Drury
The conference opened with a session chaired by Jean Roberts which included a range of welcomes and plenary presentations by speakers including Prof Susan Greenfield, Director of the Royal Institution and Professor of Pharmacology. She discussed issues around the interface between the human brain and the future of IT. The second major presentation was by Peter Drury (Head of Information Policy unit at the UK Department of Health), who set out some current developments to support the integrated delivery of services to users.
Lunch involved queuing at various stands but also discussions with colleagues from around the world.
The afternoon and early evening offered 3 "slots" each with 4 papers "themed" around certain areas - below are brief notes of the ones I attended.
XML-based application interface services - A method to enhance integrability of disease specific systems - Udo Altmann
The room for this & related XML sessions was packed!!
This was a technical talk on the use of XML in making cancer registry data communicate with the rest of a hospital information systems and available via a web browser. For more see: &
Developing tailored theory based educational content for web applications : Illustrations from the MI-HEART Project -
This paper was based on concepts from behavioral science to develop an electronic messaging service, related to heart disease behavior, amongst patients. These are "tailored" to individual patients, depending on the recipients attitude, experience etc.
An experimental Health Smart Home and its distributed Internet - based Information and communication systems - Vincent Rialle
This was a very interesting description of a French project, which uses the electrical wiring within the patients own home for telemedicine and telemonitoring. He described the placement of a variety of health monitors, including fall monitors etc., around the home, and their incorporation into a LAN, which was connected via a central control to various health and social services.
He showed how this enhanced patient autonomy, providing both a technical overview and brief consideration to some of the ethical issues produced.
Design of a consumer health record for supporting the patient-centered management of chronic disease - A. Hasman
This shared record system is designed to enhance and stimulate patient involvement in their healthcare. It also enables networking and teamworking in the healthcare team. The service benefits were fairly clear but it was seen as more difficult, in the study presented, to illustrate the difference this made to patient outcomes. Patient and professionals had different areas for data entry, and their were limitations on access. In addition, there were both public and private discussion forums built into the records system.
An Australian case study of patient attitudes towards the use of computerised medical records and unique identifiers - David Bomba
This was a case study conducted in a small practice in Australia in which patients were asked their attitudes towards their records being computerised. The study also raised issues about who the patients felt should be owning and accessing their records.
David Boomba
Ole Hejlessen Using the Internet in Patient-centered diabetes care for communication , education and decision support. Ole Hejlessen.
An interesting paper which started with an overview of insulin dependent diabetes and it's cost to the individual and society. The team represented here, provided a single point of entry for patients access to information to support their self care. The facility was also provided for patients to enter their own data e.g. blood sugars which are then shared electronically with the doctor or clinic. The system also provides educational opportunities, this included an impressive demonstration of the animation of deterioration of the retina - The Patients Own !
For more see:
CHESS: Fifteen years of research and development in consumer health Informatics - David Gustafson
David described the project's focus on helping people who are coping with chronic illness, and emphasized the importance of user needs profiling. The team represented here have been providing electronic patient information for 15 years and have conducted randomized controlled trials on their effectiveness. They have found that age, education, race, gender, computer experience etc. DO NOT make any difference to total computer usage for health information but they DO make a difference to how the technology is used - as an static information resource and interactive and communication tools. A current study is examining the differences between the use of CHESS and the general Internet.
David Gustafon
Ray Jones The accessibility of computer based health information for patients: kiosks and the web. Ray Jones
Ray followed the previous speakers in highlighting accessibility issues. He described several studies, undertaken by students at Glasgow University, relating to the acceptability of touchscreen kiosks to a range of users for health. Comparisons were also made with Internet use.
Methods for exploring the semantics of the relationships between co-occurring UMLS concepts
A deep exploration of the family concepts applied to the MESH metathesaurus.
An object orientated model for representing semantic locality in the UMLS - Olivier Bodenrider
This paper also from the NLM built on the previous paper exploring relationships between medical terms and the relationships between them.
Expression and meaning of medical language. Building an epistemological framework for the study of semantic distance -
A French exploration of the semantic language, which included a "worked" pharmacological example. He explored the linguistics approaches to some of the complex issues in this area.
Aggregating UMLS Semantic types for reducing conceptual complexity -
A description of work being undertaken by NLM to reduce the complexity of the domains to make it easier to navigate and display.

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Disclaimer : These reports & pictures are being done "on the fly" during sessions, coffee breaks & over beers at the conference therefore errors are inevitable! I take full responsibility for these and if you spot any, or would like further information please contact me at:

Page Created: 1.9.01

Last Updated: 3.9.01