Workshop Report

Organization

The DrMED 2008 workshop was organized as part of the 21st International Congress of the European Federation for Medical Informatics (MIE-2008), May 25-28, 2008, Goteborg Sweden.

The DRMed workshop was supported by the EC-funded project MedIEQ (http://www.medieq.org), under the DG-SANCO Programme “Public Health”. MedIEQ stands for “Quality Labeling of Medical Web content using Multilingual Information Extraction” and develops technology to support the work of labeling authorities, increasing the number of labeled health-related web resources and improving their monitoring.

Workshop Theme

The number of health information web resources is increasing day by day. The content of these resources is very variable and difficult to assess. Furthermore, the number of people searching for health-related information is also increasing. The development of tools to support the process of describing the content of medical web resources with meta-data that facilitate their retrieval, and with quality labels by accredited labeling authorities, is crucial for the delivery of content of better quality to health information consumers.

The scope of DRMed workshop at MIE 2008 was to provide a focused international forum for researchers, developers and labeling organizations to discuss the potential of semantic web technologies and outline promising future research directions.

Workshop Conclusions

During Session 1, entitled “Current Practices in Certification of Medical Web Resources”, the interest of existing Medical Labeling Organizations in applying state of the art semantic web technologies so as to improve the efficiency of their production chain in respect to the required human effort and resources needed, was emphasized.

The need for moving from human readable labels to machine readable ones was recognized by the participating medical web content accreditation organizations (Web Medica Acreditada - Spain, Agency for Quality in Medicine – Germany, and Health On the Net Foundation – Switzerland). Additionally, semantic web technologies as a mean for facilitating distributed content creation, discovery, linking, aggregation, and re-use in health information portals, both from end-user's and content producer’s perspectives, was discussed and demonstrated in the case of the HealthFinland portal.

An important issue raised during the workshop discussions was the divergence of accreditation processes, policies and strategies targeting end-users, used across different European countries. For example, in France, Germany and Italy, the provision of virtual consultation services is strictly forbidden. To this end, the need of harmonization of such policies/strategies by a central body, at a European or a national level, responsible for accrediting organizations so as to certify the quality of Medical Web Resources, was discussed.

During Session 2, entitled “Application of Semantic Web Technologies in the Medical Domain”, challenges related to content collection and information extraction techniques that allow the retrieval of unclassified/unlabeled web resources or the continuous monitoring of already classified/labeled ones, were addressed. More precisely, the use of techniques for content collection and analysis, keyword detection and advanced searching using Medical Terminology Resources were discussed, and a real-life Medical Web Resources Certification scenario was demonstrated via the use of the MedIEQ’s Assisting Quality Assessment (AQUA) System.

The main conclusions of this session was that even though several technological tools exist for supporting end-users (e.g. Search Engines, Filters etc), standardized tools aiming to empower end-users when taking health related decision, are still missing. As a result, the importance of the work carried out in the W3C Powder Working Group, aiming to provide standardized representation for describing web resources, was stressed out.

Important show cases demonstrating the use of such resources descriptions (POWDER compliant labels), are the works carried out in the MedIEQ and the QuatroPlus projects. The scope of MedIEQ project is to support medical web content certification authorities in their day-to-day activities, whereas, the QuatroPlus project examines the use of labels from the end-users’ perspective.

Open Issues in Medical Web Content Certification

For Medical Web Content Publishers:

  • The provision of motives, so as to enhance their web content production chain with the addition of machine readable labels, should be considered. Such motives could be for example the improvement of the ranking in popular general purpose search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo etc.) when a specific web resource is accompanied with a label.

For Medical Web Content Certification Authorities:

  • Common Accreditation Policies for authenticating Labeling Authorities to certify Medical Web Content, at National and European level, should be explored.
  • Semantic Web Tools for facilitating the creation and maintenance of machine readable labels should be examined in practice.

For End-users:

  • New ways to improve accessibility of Medical Web Resources for end-users taking advantage of the use of quality descriptors, should be provided.
  • Since end-users’ description of health-related web resources with opinions and comments has the potential to provide a useful additional source of information to both end-users and labeling authorities, more tools should be developed in this direction.

Useful Information/Resources

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