Relevant skills and expertise of the main researchers
Although the context is different, many of the challenges parallel those of a recent EPSRC-funded project in Computing Science at Aberdeen, which is exploring the use of Natural Language Generation (NLG) technology for decision support and management in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The project, entitled BabyTalk, employs a diverse set of techniques to summarise data including medical signal analysis, knowledge based reasoning and NLG. One objective of BabyTalk is to help experts and non-experts to make decisions, another is to summarise data, e.g. for nurse shift handovers in the NICU, and a third is to present information in a textual form to differing audiences, including the family. This is exemplified by the current development of three further systems, BT-NURSE, BT-FAMILY and BT-CLAN. The steps included in generating such systems include: signal analysis, data interpretation, document planning, microplanning and realisation. Linking these steps are clinical annotations and signal features, medical observations, event grouping, leading to generation of a textual summary. Underpinning all of this is an appropriate ontology which is developed from a detailed understanding of the process of care in the NICU and the language used by health professionals. Evaluation of an early BabyTalk system (BT-45) has already demonstrated that it generates textual summaries of equal value to healthcare professionals as other visualisation techniques for supporting clinical decision-making.
The Centre for Rural Health is a collaborative venture between the University of Aberdeen and the University of the Highlands and Islands. Since 2007, the Centre for Rural Health has been exploring the potential of cheap miniaturised wireless physiological monitors for use in mountain rescue. The work to date has involved: characterising the nature of mountain accidents in the UK by an epidemiological study; exploring users’ perceptions of monitoring systems to develop user-defined characteristics for the ideal monitor; and testing a prototype device which at this point can measure some, but not all, of the parameters which users would value. Many of the issues raised in this work have relevance to the much wider issue of dealing with medical emergencies in rural situations in general. These include the need for data collection methods that are simple and robust, in which data are interpreted and presented to the healthcare workers at level of complexity appropriate to their training and experience, and the need to preserve the information along the journey of care for the patient from the first point of contact to definitive treatment.
The Centre for Rural Health is located within the Centre for Health Science, which was developed through a collaborative partnership lead by Highlands and Islands Enterprise to provide a state of the art facility for the burgeoning health science community in the Highlands and Islands. The Centre for Health Science is located next to Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.