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Solutions for sharing persistent semantic medical information in heterogeneous and distributed environments

The healthcare organization structure is very complex and naturally distributed. Patients overall Europe are using the facilities of heterogeneous medical centers. The high mobility of citizens asks for an access to medical information whatever the location. Furthermore, because of mobility, medical centers are each time more confronted to interact with other medical centers located in different places. Thus, they must be able to exchange patient information with one another. Thus, one of the main eHealth challenges is to solve the interoperability of diverse ehealth systems, especially for electronic health records. This is essential, because it will allow the development of applications in areas such as teleconsultation. The ultimate goal is that a medical doctor should be able to access patient data at any time and from any location.

However, a major drawback of the interoperability issue in current approaches is the fact that they base on a message-exchange communication paradigm. This is why a centralized database has been proposed to store medical data of all patients. However, in such a solution, severe weak points may be recognized for supranational systems: maintenance costs, competitiveness and security, and difficulty in maintaining an up-to-date repository out of a many independent systems. There is therefore a clear need to design new solutions for sharing persistent semantic medical information in heterogeneous and distributed environments. A novel kind of architectures is needed to avoid disadvantages encountered within the centralized database approach.

The goal of the SACoord project was to study the requirements for interoperability of medical patient summaries in order to design new solutions for sharing persistent semantic information in heterogeneous and distributed environments. The focus of the project was technological, realizing a semantic coordination infrastructure. More specifically, SACoord has :

  1. described current standards for electronic health records ;
  2. tackled the fundamental  question of federated triples stores and queries through those stores ;
  3. designed and implemented a coordination architecture, which is a concrete metadata service layer as federated triple store architecture to describe metadata of electronic health records.

Publications concerning this project are available on