Healthcare IT Applications Can Provide Effective Solutions for Patients' Needs

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Helsinki, 17 August, 2005 — Healthcare IT Applications Can Provide Effective Solutions for Patients' Needs

Electronic Patient Records combined with Internet health information can provide an effective solution for personalized patient education activities at the point of care. With one mouse click, the doctor can use the data contained in the electronic record of the patient, in order to provide him or her with relevant online health material. Senior Researcher, Ms. Persephone Doupi of Finland's National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health STAKES demonstrates the feasibility of this new approach in her thesis.

The STEPPS system (STructured Evaluated Personalized Patient Support) automates the retrieval of personalized patient education material. The system utilizes the information stored in the patient's record to choose relevant information from a large collection of Web pages. Based on structured and coded data, STEPPS generates auto-matically the profile of a specific patient. On the basis of this profile, the system selects the best matching Web pages in its collection as suitable education material for the patient.

STEPPS was applied to the field of burn care, to support patients after hospital discharge. Returning home after a serious injury means the start of a long and often difficult period of rehabilitation. By being more informed, patients can understand better their health problems and collaborate with their clinicians in the related treatment.

The researchers compared the prototype STEPPS system with two other retrieval methods: random selection of pages from the system's collection and pages selected using the Google search engine. The study indicated that the performance of STEPPS was superior in both comparisons.

The quality of online health information is still a challenge and difficult to ensure. At present, STEPPS assumes that health professionals will review the material prior to handing it over to patients. In the context of the project, the researchers also developed a framework that can promote both the study and the development of quality assessment tools for Internet health information.

The research was conducted as collaboration between the Department of Medical Informatics of Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam and the Dutch Burns Foundation. Senior Researcher Persephone Doupi will defend her thesis on June 24th 2005 at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Sources : Persephone Doupi: Personalized Patient Education and the Internet: Linking health information to the Electronic Patient Record - STEPPS in burn care (Includes an English, Finnish, Dutch, and Greek summary). STAKES, Research Reports 152. Helsinki 2005.

Further information:
Senior Researcher Persephone Doupi
tel. +358 40 824 5281

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