Health-e-Child

Project mission

There is a compelling demand for the integration and exploitation of heterogeneous biomedical information for improved clinical practice, medical research, and personalised healthcare for the citizens of the EU.

Focus

The Health-e-Child project focus will be on individualised disease prevention, screening, early diagnosis, therapy and follow-up of paediatric heart diseases, inflammatory diseases, and brain tumours.

The project will build a Grid-enabled European network of leading clinical centres that will share and annotate biomedical data, validate systems clinically, and diffuse clinical excellence across Europe by setting up new technologies, clinical workflows, and standards.

Project objectives

  • To gain a comprehensive view of a child's health by vertically integrating biomedical data, information, and knowledge, that spans the entire spectrum from genetic to clinical to epidemiological.
  • To develop a biomedical information platform, supported by sophisticated and robust search, optimisation, and matching techniques for heterogeneous information, empowered by the Grid.
  • To build enabling tools and services on top of the Health-e-Child platform, that will lead to innovative and better healthcare solutions in Europe with:
    • Integrated disease models exploiting all available information levels.
    • Database-guided biomedical decision support systems provisioning novel clinical practices and personalised healthcare for children.
    • Large-scale, cross-modality, and longitudinal information fusion and data mining for biomedical knowledge discovery.

Project background

Vertical integration of information across biomedical abstraction, including all layers of biomedical information (ie, genetic, cell, tissue, organ, individual, and population layer) to provide a unified view of a person's biomedical and clinical condition is the corner stone of the Health-e-Child project.

Like most activities in society today, medical practice as well as research is intimately dependent on information technology. From DNA sequencing to laboratory testing and epidemiological analysis, clinicians and researchers produce as well as search for information, as part of their daily routine and decision making.

Taking advantage of technology has improved dramatically the quality of these activities' results, facilitating better health-care provision and more advanced biomedical research. Nevertheless, the current state of affairs is still severely restricted with respect to the kind of information that is available to clinicians. None of the current long-term targets of the field, eg, personalised medical care, distributed medical teams, multidisciplinary biomedical research, etc. can be realised given the present level of technology support.

Health-e-Child comes to fill the gap between what is current practice and the needs of modern health provision and research. Its goal is to eventually overcome all five of the above constraints of today's systems and empower clinicians to further advance their profession. Ultimately, with the Health-e-Child system, information will have no conceptual, logical, physical, temporal, or personal borders or barriers, but will be available to all professionals with the appropriate level of clearance.

Vision for the Health-e-Child system

The vision is for the Health-e-Child system to become the universal biomedical knowledge repository and communication conduit for the future, a common vehicle by which all clinicians will access, analyse, evaluate, enhance, and exchange biomedical information of all forms.

It will be an indispensable tool in their daily clinical practice, decision making, and research. It will be accessible at any time and from anywhere, and will offer a friendly, multi-modal, efficient, and effective interaction and exploration environment. Clearly, any effort towards this vision requires significant change in the biomedical information management strategies of the past, with respect to functionality, operational environment, and other aspects.

Characteristics of Health-e-Child

Contrary to current practice, the vision requires that the Health-e-Child system be characterised by the following:

  • Universality of information: handle "all'' relevant medical applications and manage "all'' forms of biomedical content.
  • Person-centricity of information: synthesise all available information about each person in a cohesive whole.
  • Universality of application: comprehensively capture "all'' aspects of "all'' biomedical phenomena, diseases, and human clinical behaviours.
  • Multiplicity and variety of biomedical analytics: provide a rich and broad collection of sophisticated analysis and modelling techniques to address the great variety of specialised needs of its applications.
  • Person-centricity of interaction: The primary concern of any user interaction with Health-e-Child should be the persons involved.
  • Globalness of distributed environment: be a widely distributed system, through which biomedical information sources across the world get interconnected to exchange and integrate their contents.
  • Genericity of technology: For economy of scale, reusability, extensibility, and maintainability, Health-e-Child should be developed on top of standard, generic infrastructures that provide all common data and computation management services required. 

With respect to medical applications, Health-e-Child focuses on paediatrics, and in particular, on some carefully selected representative diseases in three different categories: paediatric heart diseases, inflammatory diseases, and brain tumours.

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