To find, compile, aggregate and automatically combine patient information and medical knowledge to create a coherent information chain provides an opportunity to make better and more informed decisions.
E-health is an area that combines health care with electronic information management to improve people's health. The applications can be anything, from athlete's collection of personal data via mobile phones and smart watches, to automated support for diagnosis with the help of electronic health record systems and clinical decision support systems. Common to all the e-health applications is that they can manage information automatically and provide added value when information can be shared with multiple applications. Sharing and reusing information is the foundation of e-health, and it is possible by using good methods for accurate and reliable information management. My work focuses on developing and improving such methods, to achieve a well-functioning information infrastructure.
Ontology & SNOMED CT
To obtain the automatic information management required, it is important that the information is interpreted unambiguously by both humans and computers. A useful method is to use ontologies to store the information. In ontologies concepts are formally defined so that computers and humans can interpret their importance. In some cases it may suffice to use classifications, which usually have simpler definitions of classes or concepts than ontologies have.
In my research, I focus primarily on how ontologies and classifications can be implemented in different applications and how ontologies and classifications can be improved to better support the applications. An ontology that I work a lot with is SNOMED CT. The ontology has a comprehensive content tailored for the healthcare sector and also includes an extensive terminology. I also work with the classifications International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) and International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).
Information model & openEHR
Formally defined information models are used to put the different parts of the information in context and to define what is appropriate to document in different situations. Information models become a map of stored information that both humans and computers can interpret.
I focus my research on information models on how they can be implemented and improved to better support the applications. One area of particular interest to me is the binding of ontology and terminology to the information model. The information model standard I work most with is openEHR where a model's information content can be adapted to different situations in a standardized way.
Compilation & decision support
The information stored using ontologies, classifications, and information models I then use in my work in different ways. It can be for searches of medical information, summarizations of a person's health status, aggregations and summarizations of the health status of a population or the combining of individual medical information with medical knowledge to provide an individualized decision support.
Collaboration with the National Board of Health and Welfare & IHTSDO
Within the health care system, information on all residents is stored and managed. Therefore, the methods used for information management must be possible to use on a larger scale. To know that a method is useful, it is not sufficient to only create and test it in a research laboratory. Instead, the methods need to be based on and tested under the conditions that exist in reality. Therefore, I see the interaction with external organizations as a prerequisite for my research.
I have since 2007 worked part-time as an expert consultant at the National Board of Health and Welfare in their e-health projects. Besides providing new knowledge from the research frontier to the Board, I have also been able to take part in and directly influence the work on e-health at both a national and an international level.
International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization (IHTSDO) is SNOMED CT's owner and management organization and currently has approximately 30 countries as members. I have been a member of the organization's advisory groups since it was started, and I have both passed on knowledge from research and influenced the work of the organization.
Education & training
Both in Sweden and internationally there is a shortage of people with good skills in e-health. Therefore, I educate master students of engineering in medical information systems. I also work with the training of professionals in e-health both on a national level, on behalf of the National Board of Health and Welfare, and on an international level, on behalf of IHTSDO.