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1.  CDAPubMed: a browser extension to retrieve EHR-based biomedical literature 
Background
Over the last few decades, the ever-increasing output of scientific publications has led to new challenges to keep up to date with the literature. In the biomedical area, this growth has introduced new requirements for professionals, e.g., physicians, who have to locate the exact papers that they need for their clinical and research work amongst a huge number of publications. Against this backdrop, novel information retrieval methods are even more necessary. While web search engines are widespread in many areas, facilitating access to all kinds of information, additional tools are required to automatically link information retrieved from these engines to specific biomedical applications. In the case of clinical environments, this also means considering aspects such as patient data security and confidentiality or structured contents, e.g., electronic health records (EHRs). In this scenario, we have developed a new tool to facilitate query building to retrieve scientific literature related to EHRs.
Results
We have developed CDAPubMed, an open-source web browser extension to integrate EHR features in biomedical literature retrieval approaches. Clinical users can use CDAPubMed to: (i) load patient clinical documents, i.e., EHRs based on the Health Level 7-Clinical Document Architecture Standard (HL7-CDA), (ii) identify relevant terms for scientific literature search in these documents, i.e., Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), automatically driven by the CDAPubMed configuration, which advanced users can optimize to adapt to each specific situation, and (iii) generate and launch literature search queries to a major search engine, i.e., PubMed, to retrieve citations related to the EHR under examination.
Conclusions
CDAPubMed is a platform-independent tool designed to facilitate literature searching using keywords contained in specific EHRs. CDAPubMed is visually integrated, as an extension of a widespread web browser, within the standard PubMed interface. It has been tested on a public dataset of HL7-CDA documents, returning significantly fewer citations since queries are focused on characteristics identified within the EHR. For instance, compared with more than 200,000 citations retrieved by breast neoplasm, fewer than ten citations were retrieved when ten patient features were added using CDAPubMed. This is an open source tool that can be freely used for non-profit purposes and integrated with other existing systems.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-29
PMCID: PMC3366875  PMID: 22480327
2.  A Web-Based Data-Querying Tool Based on Ontology-Driven Methodology and Flowchart-Based Model 
JMIR Medical Informatics  2013;1(1):e2.
Background
Because of the increased adoption rate of electronic medical record (EMR) systems, more health care records have been increasingly accumulating in clinical data repositories. Therefore, querying the data stored in these repositories is crucial for retrieving the knowledge from such large volumes of clinical data.
Objective
The aim of this study is to develop a Web-based approach for enriching the capabilities of the data-querying system along the three following considerations: (1) the interface design used for query formulation, (2) the representation of query results, and (3) the models used for formulating query criteria.
Methods
The Guideline Interchange Format version 3.5 (GLIF3.5), an ontology-driven clinical guideline representation language, was used for formulating the query tasks based on the GLIF3.5 flowchart in the Protégé environment. The flowchart-based data-querying model (FBDQM) query execution engine was developed and implemented for executing queries and presenting the results through a visual and graphical interface. To examine a broad variety of patient data, the clinical data generator was implemented to automatically generate the clinical data in the repository, and the generated data, thereby, were employed to evaluate the system. The accuracy and time performance of the system for three medical query tasks relevant to liver cancer were evaluated based on the clinical data generator in the experiments with varying numbers of patients.
Results
In this study, a prototype system was developed to test the feasibility of applying a methodology for building a query execution engine using FBDQMs by formulating query tasks using the existing GLIF. The FBDQM-based query execution engine was used to successfully retrieve the clinical data based on the query tasks formatted using the GLIF3.5 in the experiments with varying numbers of patients. The accuracy of the three queries (ie, “degree of liver damage,” “degree of liver damage when applying a mutually exclusive setting,” and “treatments for liver cancer”) was 100% for all four experiments (10 patients, 100 patients, 1000 patients, and 10,000 patients). Among the three measured query phases, (1) structured query language operations, (2) criteria verification, and (3) other, the first two had the longest execution time.
Conclusions
The ontology-driven FBDQM-based approach enriched the capabilities of the data-querying system. The adoption of the GLIF3.5 increased the potential for interoperability, shareability, and reusability of the query tasks.
doi:10.2196/medinform.2519
PMCID: PMC4288233  PMID: 25600078
electronic medical records; query languages; information retrieval query processing; ontology engineering; clinical practice guideline
3.  Analysis of queries sent to PubMed at the point of care: Observation of search behaviour in a medical teaching hospital 
Background
The use of PubMed to answer daily medical care questions is limited because it is challenging to retrieve a small set of relevant articles and time is restricted. Knowing what aspects of queries are likely to retrieve relevant articles can increase the effectiveness of PubMed searches. The objectives of our study were to identify queries that are likely to retrieve relevant articles by relating PubMed search techniques and tools to the number of articles retrieved and the selection of articles for further reading.
Methods
This was a prospective observational study of queries regarding patient-related problems sent to PubMed by residents and internists in internal medicine working in an Academic Medical Centre. We analyzed queries, search results, query tools (Mesh, Limits, wildcards, operators), selection of abstract and full-text for further reading, using a portal that mimics PubMed.
Results
PubMed was used to solve 1121 patient-related problems, resulting in 3205 distinct queries. Abstracts were viewed in 999 (31%) of these queries, and in 126 (39%) of 321 queries using query tools. The average term count per query was 2.5. Abstracts were selected in more than 40% of queries using four or five terms, increasing to 63% if the use of four or five terms yielded 2–161 articles.
Conclusion
Queries sent to PubMed by physicians at our hospital during daily medical care contain fewer than three terms. Queries using four to five terms, retrieving less than 161 article titles, are most likely to result in abstract viewing. PubMed search tools are used infrequently by our population and are less effective than the use of four or five terms. Methods to facilitate the formulation of precise queries, using more relevant terms, should be the focus of education and research.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-42
PMCID: PMC2567311  PMID: 18816391
4.  Statins in the Treatment of Chronic Heart Failure: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(8):e333.
Background
The efficacy of statin therapy in patients with established chronic heart failure (CHF) is a subject of much debate.
Methods and Findings
We conducted three systematic literature searches to assess the evidence supporting the prescription of statins in CHF. First, we investigated the participation of CHF patients in randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials designed to evaluate the efficacy of statins in reducing major cardiovascular events and mortality. Second, we assessed the association between serum cholesterol and outcome in CHF. Finally, we evaluated the ability of statin treatment to modify surrogate endpoint parameters in CHF.
Using validated search strategies, we systematically searched PubMed for our three queries. In addition, we searched the reference lists from eligible studies, used the “see related articles” feature for key publications in PubMed, consulted the Cochrane Library, and searched the ISI Web of Knowledge for papers citing key publications.
Search 1 resulted in the retrieval of 47 placebo-controlled clinical statin trials involving more than 100,000 patients. CHF patients had, however, been systematically excluded from these trials. Search 2 resulted in the retrieval of eight studies assessing the relationship between cholesterol levels and outcome in CHF patients. Lower serum cholesterol was consistently associated with increased mortality. Search 3 resulted in the retrieval of 18 studies on the efficacy of statin treatment in CHF. On the whole, these studies reported favorable outcomes for almost all surrogate endpoints.
Conclusions
Since CHF patients have been systematically excluded from randomized, controlled clinical cholesterol-lowering trials, the effect of statin therapy in these patients remains to be established. Currently, two large, randomized, placebo-controlled statin trials are under way to evaluate the efficacy of statin treatment in terms of reducing clinical endpoints in CHF patients in particular.
A systematic review found that patients with heart failure have been excluded from randomised controlled trials on the use of statins. Evidence from other studies on the effectiveness of statins for patients with heart failure is weak and conflicting.
Editors' Summary
Background.
When medical researchers test a drug—or some other treatment—for a particular medical condition, they often decide not to include in their study anyone who has, in addition to the disease they are interested in, certain other health problems. This is because including patients with two or more conditions can complicate the analysis of the results and make it hard to reach firm conclusions. However, excluding patients in this way can result in uncertainty as to whether treatments are effective for anyone who suffers from the disease in question, or just for people like those who took part in the research.
A great deal of research has been conducted with drugs known as statins, which lower cholesterol levels in the blood. (A raised level of cholesterol is known to be a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which causes heart attacks and strokes.) As a result of this research, statins have been accepted as effective and safe. They are now, in consequence, among the most commonly prescribed medicines. Heart failure, however, is not the same thing as a heart attack. It is the name given to the condition where the muscles of the heart have become weakened, most often as a result of aging, and the heart becomes gradually less efficient at pumping blood around the body. (Some people with heart failure live for many years, but 70% of those with the condition die within ten years.) It is common for people with cardiovascular disease also to have heart failure. Nevertheless, some researchers who have studied the effects of statins have made the decision not to include in their studies any patients with cardiovascular disease who, in addition, have heart failure.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers in this study were aware that patients with heart failure have often been excluded from statin trials. They felt it was important to assess the available evidence supporting the prescription of statins for such patients. Specifically, they wanted to find out the following: how often have patients with heart failure been included in statin trials, what evidence is available as to whether it is beneficial for patients with heart failure to have low cholesterol, and what evidence is there that prescribing statins helps these patients?
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They did not do any new work involving patients. Instead, they did a very thorough search for all relevant studies of good quality that had already been published and they reviewed the results. “Randomized clinical trials” (RCTs) are the most reliable type of medical research. The researchers found there had been 47 such trials (involving over 100,000 patients) on the use of statins for treating cardiovascular disease, but all these trials had excluded heart failure patients. They found eight studies (which were not RCTs) looking at cholesterol levels and heart failure. These studies found, perhaps surprisingly, that death rates were higher in those patients with heart failure who had low cholesterol. However, they also found 18 studies (again not RCTs) on the use of statins in patients with heart failure. These 18 studies seemed to suggest that statins were of benefit to the patients who received them.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The evidence for or against prescribing statins for people with heart failure is limited, conflicting, and unclear. Further research involving RTCs is necessary. (Two such trials are known to be in progress.)
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030333.
General information about statins is available from the Web site of Patient UK
The American Heart Association Web site is a good source of information about all types of heart disease, including heart attacks and heart failure
For a definition of randomized controlled trials see Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit
More detailed information about the quality of evidence from medical research may be found in the James Lind Library
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030333
PMCID: PMC1551909  PMID: 16933967
5.  Personalized online information search and visualization 
Background
The rapid growth of online publications such as the Medline and other sources raises the questions how to get the relevant information efficiently. It is important, for a bench scientist, e.g., to monitor related publications constantly. It is also important, for a clinician, e.g., to access the patient records anywhere and anytime. Although time-consuming, this kind of searching procedure is usually similar and simple. Likely, it involves a search engine and a visualization interface. Different words or combination reflects different research topics. The objective of this study is to automate this tedious procedure by recording those words/terms in a database and online sources, and use the information for an automated search and retrieval. The retrieved information will be available anytime and anywhere through a secure web server.
Results
We developed such a database that stored searching terms, journals and et al., and implement a piece of software for searching the medical subject heading-indexed sources such as the Medline and other online sources automatically. The returned information were stored locally, as is, on a server and visible through a Web-based interface. The search was performed daily or otherwise scheduled and the users logon to the website anytime without typing any words. The system has potentials to retrieve similarly from non-medical subject heading-indexed literature or a privileged information source such as a clinical information system. The issues such as security, presentation and visualization of the retrieved information were thus addressed. One of the presentation issues such as wireless access was also experimented. A user survey showed that the personalized online searches saved time and increased and relevancy. Handheld devices could also be used to access the stored information but less satisfactory.
Conclusion
The Web-searching software or similar system has potential to be an efficient tool for both bench scientists and clinicians for their daily information needs.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-5-6
PMCID: PMC1079857  PMID: 15766382
6.  Boolean versus ranked querying for biomedical systematic reviews 
Background
The process of constructing a systematic review, a document that compiles the published evidence pertaining to a specified medical topic, is intensely time-consuming, often taking a team of researchers over a year, with the identification of relevant published research comprising a substantial portion of the effort. The standard paradigm for this information-seeking task is to use Boolean search; however, this leaves the user(s) the requirement of examining every returned result. Further, our experience is that effective Boolean queries for this specific task are extremely difficult to formulate and typically require multiple iterations of refinement before being finalized.
Methods
We explore the effectiveness of using ranked retrieval as compared to Boolean querying for the purpose of constructing a systematic review. We conduct a series of experiments involving ranked retrieval, using queries defined methodologically, in an effort to understand the practicalities of incorporating ranked retrieval into the systematic search task.
Results
Our results show that ranked retrieval by itself is not viable for this search task requiring high recall. However, we describe a refinement of the standard Boolean search process and show that ranking within a Boolean result set can improve the overall search performance by providing early indication of the quality of the results, thereby speeding up the iterative query-refinement process.
Conclusions
Outcomes of experiments suggest that an interactive query-development process using a hybrid ranked and Boolean retrieval system has the potential for significant time-savings over the current search process in the systematic reviewing.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-58
PMCID: PMC2966450  PMID: 20937152
7.  Leveraging medical thesauri and physician feedback for improving medical literature retrieval for case queries 
Objective
This paper presents a study of methods for medical literature retrieval for case queries, in which the goal is to retrieve literature articles similar to a given patient case. In particular, it focuses on analyzing the performance of state-of-the-art general retrieval methods and improving them by the use of medical thesauri and physician feedback.
Materials and Methods
The Kullback–Leibler divergence retrieval model with Dirichlet smoothing is used as the state-of-the-art general retrieval method. Pseudorelevance feedback and term weighing methods are proposed by leveraging MeSH and UMLS thesauri. Evaluation is performed on a test collection recently created for the ImageCLEF medical case retrieval challenge.
Results
Experimental results show that a well-tuned state-of-the-art general retrieval model achieves a mean average precision of 0.2754, but the performance can be improved by over 40% to 0.3980, through the proposed methods.
Discussion
The results over the ImageCLEF test collection, which is currently the best collection available for the task, are encouraging. There are, however, limitations due to small evaluation set size. The analysis shows that further refinement of the methods is necessary before they can be really useful in a clinical setting.
Conclusion
Medical case-based literature retrieval is a critical search application that presents a number of unique challenges. This analysis shows that the state-of-the-art general retrieval models are reasonably good for the task, but the performance can be significantly improved by developing new task-specific retrieval models that incorporate medical thesauri and physician feedback.
doi:10.1136/amiajnl-2011-000293
PMCID: PMC3422816  PMID: 22437075
Case search; clinical (L01.700.508.300.190); computer-assisted (L01.700.508.100); decision making; decision support systems; decision support techniques (L01.700.508.190); high-performance and large-scale computing; information management (L01.399); information retrieval; information storage and retrieval (L01.700.508.280); language models; machine learning; medical case-based retrieval; medical case retrieval; medical informatics (L01.313.500); natural language processing; semantic weighing; statistical analysis of large datasets; uncertain reasoning and decision theory; visualization of data and knowledge
8.  Performance evaluation of unified medical language system®'s synonyms expansion to query PubMed 
Background
PubMed is the main access to medical literature on the Internet. In order to enhance the performance of its information retrieval tools, primarily non-indexed citations, the authors propose a method: expanding users' queries using Unified Medical Language System' (UMLS) synonyms i.e. all the terms gathered under one unique Concept Unique Identifier.
Methods
This method was evaluated using queries constructed to emphasize the differences between this new method and the current PubMed automatic term mapping. Four experts assessed citation relevance.
Results
Using UMLS, we were able to retrieve new citations in 45.5% of queries, which implies a small increase in recall. The new strategy led to a heterogeneous 23.7% mean increase in non-indexed citation retrieved. Of these, 82% have been published less than 4 months earlier. The overall mean precision was 48.4% but differed according to the evaluators, ranging from 36.7% to 88.1% (Inter rater agreement was poor: kappa = 0.34).
Conclusions
This study highlights the need for specific search tools for each type of user and use-cases. The proposed strategy may be useful to retrieve recent scientific advancement.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-12
PMCID: PMC3309945  PMID: 22376010
9.  Generic queries for meeting clinical information needs. 
This paper describes a model for automated information retrieval in which questions posed by clinical users are analyzed to establish common syntactic and semantic patterns. The patterns are used to develop a set of general-purpose questions called generic queries. These generic queries are used in responding to specific clinical information needs. Users select generic queries in one of two ways. The user may type in questions, which are then analyzed, using natural language processing techniques, to identify the most relevant generic query; or the user may indicate patient data of interest and then pick one of several potentially relevant questions. Once the query and medical concepts have been determined, an information source is selected automatically, a retrieval strategy is composed and executed, and the results are sorted and filtered for presentation to the user. This work makes extensive use of the National Library of Medicine's Unified Medical Language System (UMLS): medical concepts are derived from the Metathesaurus, medical queries are based on semantic relations drawn from the UMLS Semantic Network, and automated source selection makes use of the Information Sources Map. The paper describes research currently under way to implement this model and reports on experience and results to date.
PMCID: PMC225762  PMID: 8472005
10.  User centered and ontology based information retrieval system for life sciences 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13(Suppl 1):S4.
Background
Because of the increasing number of electronic resources, designing efficient tools to retrieve and exploit them is a major challenge. Some improvements have been offered by semantic Web technologies and applications based on domain ontologies. In life science, for instance, the Gene Ontology is widely exploited in genomic applications and the Medical Subject Headings is the basis of biomedical publications indexation and information retrieval process proposed by PubMed. However current search engines suffer from two main drawbacks: there is limited user interaction with the list of retrieved resources and no explanation for their adequacy to the query is provided. Users may thus be confused by the selection and have no idea on how to adapt their queries so that the results match their expectations.
Results
This paper describes an information retrieval system that relies on domain ontology to widen the set of relevant documents that is retrieved and that uses a graphical rendering of query results to favor user interactions. Semantic proximities between ontology concepts and aggregating models are used to assess documents adequacy with respect to a query. The selection of documents is displayed in a semantic map to provide graphical indications that make explicit to what extent they match the user's query; this man/machine interface favors a more interactive and iterative exploration of data corpus, by facilitating query concepts weighting and visual explanation. We illustrate the benefit of using this information retrieval system on two case studies one of which aiming at collecting human genes related to transcription factors involved in hemopoiesis pathway.
Conclusions
The ontology based information retrieval system described in this paper (OBIRS) is freely available at: http://www.ontotoolkit.mines-ales.fr/ObirsClient/. This environment is a first step towards a user centred application in which the system enlightens relevant information to provide decision help.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S1-S4
PMCID: PMC3434427  PMID: 22373375
11.  SPIRS: A Web-based Image Retrieval System for Large Biomedical Databases 
Purpose
With the increasing use of images in disease research, education, and clinical medicine, the need for methods that effectively archive, query, and retrieve these images by their content is underscored. This paper describes the implementation of a Web-based retrieval system called SPIRS (Spine Pathology & Image Retrieval System), which permits exploration of a large biomedical database of digitized spine x-ray images and data from a national health survey using a combination of visual and textual queries.
Methods
SPIRS is a generalizable framework that consists of four components: a client applet, a gateway, an indexing and retrieval system, and a database of images and associated text data. The prototype system is demonstrated using text and imaging data collected as part of the second U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES II). Users search the image data by providing a sketch of the vertebral outline or selecting an example vertebral image and some relevant text parameters. Pertinent pathology on the image/sketch can be annotated and weighted to indicate importance.
Results
During the course of development, we explored different algorithms to perform functions such as segmentation, indexing, and retrieval. Each algorithm was tested individually and then implemented as part of SPIRS. To evaluate the overall system, we first tested the system’s ability to return similar vertebral shapes from the database given a query shape. Initial evaluations using visual queries only (no text) have shown that the system achieves up to 68% accuracy in finding images in the database that exhibit similar abnormality type and severity. Relevance feedback mechanisms have been shown to increase accuracy by an additional 22% after three iterations. While we primarily demonstrate this system in the context of retrieving vertebral shape, our framework has also been adapted to search a collection of 100,000 uterine cervix images to study the progression of cervical cancer.
Conclusions
SPIRS is automated, easily accessible, and integratable with other complementary information retrieval systems. The system supports the ability for users to intuitively query large amounts of imaging data by providing visual examples and text keywords and has beneficial implications in the areas of research, education, and patient care.
doi:10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2008.09.006
PMCID: PMC2693318  PMID: 18996737
Medical informatics applications; Information storage and retrieval; Content-based image retrieval; Visual access methods; Web-based systems
12.  MScanner: a classifier for retrieving Medline citations 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:108.
Background
Keyword searching through PubMed and other systems is the standard means of retrieving information from Medline. However, ad-hoc retrieval systems do not meet all of the needs of databases that curate information from literature, or of text miners developing a corpus on a topic that has many terms indicative of relevance. Several databases have developed supervised learning methods that operate on a filtered subset of Medline, to classify Medline records so that fewer articles have to be manually reviewed for relevance. A few studies have considered generalisation of Medline classification to operate on the entire Medline database in a non-domain-specific manner, but existing applications lack speed, available implementations, or a means to measure performance in new domains.
Results
MScanner is an implementation of a Bayesian classifier that provides a simple web interface for submitting a corpus of relevant training examples in the form of PubMed IDs and returning results ranked by decreasing probability of relevance. For maximum speed it uses the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and journal of publication as a concise document representation, and takes roughly 90 seconds to return results against the 16 million records in Medline. The web interface provides interactive exploration of the results, and cross validated performance evaluation on the relevant input against a random subset of Medline. We describe the classifier implementation, cross validate it on three domain-specific topics, and compare its performance to that of an expert PubMed query for a complex topic. In cross validation on the three sample topics against 100,000 random articles, the classifier achieved excellent separation of relevant and irrelevant article score distributions, ROC areas between 0.97 and 0.99, and averaged precision between 0.69 and 0.92.
Conclusion
MScanner is an effective non-domain-specific classifier that operates on the entire Medline database, and is suited to retrieving topics for which many features may indicate relevance. Its web interface simplifies the task of classifying Medline citations, compared to building a pre-filter and classifier specific to the topic. The data sets and open source code used to obtain the results in this paper are available on-line and as supplementary material, and the web interface may be accessed at .
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-108
PMCID: PMC2263023  PMID: 18284683
13.  Matching health information seekers' queries to medical terms 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13(Suppl 14):S11.
Background
The Internet is a major source of health information but most seekers are not familiar with medical vocabularies. Hence, their searches fail due to bad query formulation. Several methods have been proposed to improve information retrieval: query expansion, syntactic and semantic techniques or knowledge-based methods. However, it would be useful to clean those queries which are misspelled. In this paper, we propose a simple yet efficient method in order to correct misspellings of queries submitted by health information seekers to a medical online search tool.
Methods
In addition to query normalizations and exact phonetic term matching, we tested two approximate string comparators: the similarity score function of Stoilos and the normalized Levenshtein edit distance. We propose here to combine them to increase the number of matched medical terms in French. We first took a sample of query logs to determine the thresholds and processing times. In the second run, at a greater scale we tested different combinations of query normalizations before or after misspelling correction with the retained thresholds in the first run.
Results
According to the total number of suggestions (around 163, the number of the first sample of queries), at a threshold comparator score of 0.3, the normalized Levenshtein edit distance gave the highest F-Measure (88.15%) and at a threshold comparator score of 0.7, the Stoilos function gave the highest F-Measure (84.31%). By combining Levenshtein and Stoilos, the highest F-Measure (80.28%) is obtained with 0.2 and 0.7 thresholds respectively. However, queries are composed by several terms that may be combination of medical terms. The process of query normalization and segmentation is thus required. The highest F-Measure (64.18%) is obtained when this process is realized before spelling-correction.
Conclusions
Despite the widely known high performance of the normalized edit distance of Levenshtein, we show in this paper that its combination with the Stoilos algorithm improved the results for misspelling correction of user queries. Accuracy is improved by combining spelling, phoneme-based information and string normalizations and segmentations into medical terms. These encouraging results have enabled the integration of this method into two projects funded by the French National Research Agency-Technologies for Health Care. The first aims to facilitate the coding process of clinical free texts contained in Electronic Health Records and discharge summaries, whereas the second aims at improving information retrieval through Electronic Health Records.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S14-S11
PMCID: PMC3439674  PMID: 23095521
14.  G-Bean: an ontology-graph based web tool for biomedical literature retrieval 
BMC Bioinformatics  2014;15(Suppl 12):S1.
Background
Currently, most people use NCBI's PubMed to search the MEDLINE database, an important bibliographical information source for life science and biomedical information. However, PubMed has some drawbacks that make it difficult to find relevant publications pertaining to users' individual intentions, especially for non-expert users. To ameliorate the disadvantages of PubMed, we developed G-Bean, a graph based biomedical search engine, to search biomedical articles in MEDLINE database more efficiently.
Methods
G-Bean addresses PubMed's limitations with three innovations: (1) Parallel document index creation: a multithreaded index creation strategy is employed to generate the document index for G-Bean in parallel; (2) Ontology-graph based query expansion: an ontology graph is constructed by merging four major UMLS (Version 2013AA) vocabularies, MeSH, SNOMEDCT, CSP and AOD, to cover all concepts in National Library of Medicine (NLM) database; a Personalized PageRank algorithm is used to compute concept relevance in this ontology graph and the Term Frequency - Inverse Document Frequency (TF-IDF) weighting scheme is used to re-rank the concepts. The top 500 ranked concepts are selected for expanding the initial query to retrieve more accurate and relevant information; (3) Retrieval and re-ranking of documents based on user's search intention: after the user selects any article from the existing search results, G-Bean analyzes user's selections to determine his/her true search intention and then uses more relevant and more specific terms to retrieve additional related articles. The new articles are presented to the user in the order of their relevance to the already selected articles.
Results
Performance evaluation with 106 OHSUMED benchmark queries shows that G-Bean returns more relevant results than PubMed does when using these queries to search the MEDLINE database. PubMed could not even return any search result for some OHSUMED queries because it failed to form the appropriate Boolean query statement automatically from the natural language query strings. G-Bean is available at http://bioinformatics.clemson.edu/G-Bean/index.php.
Conclusions
G-Bean addresses PubMed's limitations with ontology-graph based query expansion, automatic document indexing, and user search intention discovery. It shows significant advantages in finding relevant articles from the MEDLINE database to meet the information need of the user.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-15-S12-S1
PMCID: PMC4243180  PMID: 25474588
15.  Internet-Based Device-Assisted Remote Monitoring of Cardiovascular Implantable Electronic Devices 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of this Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) report was to conduct a systematic review of the available published evidence on the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted remote monitoring systems (RMSs) for therapeutic cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) such as pacemakers (PMs), implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. The MAS evidence-based review was performed to support public financing decisions.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a major cause of fatalities in developed countries. In the United States almost half a million people die of SCD annually, resulting in more deaths than stroke, lung cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined. In Canada each year more than 40,000 people die from a cardiovascular related cause; approximately half of these deaths are attributable to SCD.
Most cases of SCD occur in the general population typically in those without a known history of heart disease. Most SCDs are caused by cardiac arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm caused by malfunctions of the heart’s electrical system. Up to half of patients with significant heart failure (HF) also have advanced conduction abnormalities.
Cardiac arrhythmias are managed by a variety of drugs, ablative procedures, and therapeutic CIEDs. The range of CIEDs includes pacemakers (PMs), implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. Bradycardia is the main indication for PMs and individuals at high risk for SCD are often treated by ICDs.
Heart failure (HF) is also a significant health problem and is the most frequent cause of hospitalization in those over 65 years of age. Patients with moderate to severe HF may also have cardiac arrhythmias, although the cause may be related more to heart pump or haemodynamic failure. The presence of HF, however, increases the risk of SCD five-fold, regardless of aetiology. Patients with HF who remain highly symptomatic despite optimal drug therapy are sometimes also treated with CRT devices.
With an increasing prevalence of age-related conditions such as chronic HF and the expanding indications for ICD therapy, the rate of ICD placement has been dramatically increasing. The appropriate indications for ICD placement, as well as the rate of ICD placement, are increasingly an issue. In the United States, after the introduction of expanded coverage of ICDs, a national ICD registry was created in 2005 to track these devices. A recent survey based on this national ICD registry reported that 22.5% (25,145) of patients had received a non-evidence based ICD and that these patients experienced significantly higher in-hospital mortality and post-procedural complications.
In addition to the increased ICD device placement and the upfront device costs, there is the need for lifelong follow-up or surveillance, placing a significant burden on patients and device clinics. In 2007, over 1.6 million CIEDs were implanted in Europe and the United States, which translates to over 5.5 million patient encounters per year if the recommended follow-up practices are considered. A safe and effective RMS could potentially improve the efficiency of long-term follow-up of patients and their CIEDs.
Technology
In addition to being therapeutic devices, CIEDs have extensive diagnostic abilities. All CIEDs can be interrogated and reprogrammed during an in-clinic visit using an inductive programming wand. Remote monitoring would allow patients to transmit information recorded in their devices from the comfort of their own homes. Currently most ICD devices also have the potential to be remotely monitored. Remote monitoring (RM) can be used to check system integrity, to alert on arrhythmic episodes, and to potentially replace in-clinic follow-ups and manage disease remotely. They do not currently have the capability of being reprogrammed remotely, although this feature is being tested in pilot settings.
Every RMS is specifically designed by a manufacturer for their cardiac implant devices. For Internet-based device-assisted RMSs, this customization includes details such as web application, multiplatform sensors, custom algorithms, programming information, and types and methods of alerting patients and/or physicians. The addition of peripherals for monitoring weight and pressure or communicating with patients through the onsite communicators also varies by manufacturer. Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs are intended to function as a surveillance system rather than an emergency system.
Health care providers therefore need to learn each application, and as more than one application may be used at one site, multiple applications may need to be reviewed for alarms. All RMSs deliver system integrity alerting; however, some systems seem to be better geared to fast arrhythmic alerting, whereas other systems appear to be more intended for remote follow-up or supplemental remote disease management. The different RMSs may therefore have different impacts on workflow organization because of their varying frequency of interrogation and methods of alerts. The integration of these proprietary RM web-based registry systems with hospital-based electronic health record systems has so far not been commonly implemented.
Currently there are 2 general types of RMSs: those that transmit device diagnostic information automatically and without patient assistance to secure Internet-based registry systems, and those that require patient assistance to transmit information. Both systems employ the use of preprogrammed alerts that are either transmitted automatically or at regular scheduled intervals to patients and/or physicians.
The current web applications, programming, and registry systems differ greatly between the manufacturers of transmitting cardiac devices. In Canada there are currently 4 manufacturers—Medtronic Inc., Biotronik, Boston Scientific Corp., and St Jude Medical Inc.—which have regulatory approval for remote transmitting CIEDs. Remote monitoring systems are proprietary to the manufacturer of the implant device. An RMS for one device will not work with another device, and the RMS may not work with all versions of the manufacturer’s devices.
All Internet-based device-assisted RMSs have common components. The implanted device is equipped with a micro-antenna that communicates with a small external device (at bedside or wearable) commonly known as the transmitter. Transmitters are able to interrogate programmed parameters and diagnostic data stored in the patients’ implant device. The information transfer to the communicator can occur at preset time intervals with the participation of the patient (waving a wand over the device) or it can be sent automatically (wirelessly) without their participation. The encrypted data are then uploaded to an Internet-based database on a secure central server. The data processing facilities at the central database, depending on the clinical urgency, can trigger an alert for the physician(s) that can be sent via email, fax, text message, or phone. The details are also posted on the secure website for viewing by the physician (or their delegate) at their convenience.
Research Questions
The research directions and specific research questions for this evidence review were as follows:
To identify the Internet-based device-assisted RMSs available for follow-up of patients with therapeutic CIEDs such as PMs, ICDs, and CRT devices.
To identify the potential risks, operational issues, or organizational issues related to Internet-based device-assisted RM for CIEDs.
To evaluate the safety, acceptability, and effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs such as PMs, ICDs, and CRT devices.
To evaluate the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs compared to usual outpatient in-office monitoring strategies.
To evaluate the resource implications or budget impact of RMSs for CIEDs in Ontario, Canada.
Research Methods
Literature Search
The review included a systematic review of published scientific literature and consultations with experts and manufacturers of all 4 approved RMSs for CIEDs in Canada. Information on CIED cardiac implant clinics was also obtained from Provincial Programs, a division within the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care with a mandate for cardiac implant specialty care. Various administrative databases and registries were used to outline the current clinical follow-up burden of CIEDs in Ontario. The provincial population-based ICD database developed and maintained by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) was used to review the current follow-up practices with Ontario patients implanted with ICD devices.
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on September 21, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from 1950 to September 2010. Search alerts were generated and reviewed for additional relevant literature until December 31, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search.
Inclusion Criteria
published between 1950 and September 2010;
English language full-reports and human studies;
original reports including clinical evaluations of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs in clinical settings;
reports including standardized measurements on outcome events such as technical success, safety, effectiveness, cost, measures of health care utilization, morbidity, mortality, quality of life or patient satisfaction;
randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analyses, cohort and controlled clinical studies.
Exclusion Criteria
non-systematic reviews, letters, comments and editorials;
reports not involving standardized outcome events;
clinical reports not involving Internet-based device assisted RM systems for CIEDs in clinical settings;
reports involving studies testing or validating algorithms without RM;
studies with small samples (<10 subjects).
Outcomes of Interest
The outcomes of interest included: technical outcomes, emergency department visits, complications, major adverse events, symptoms, hospital admissions, clinic visits (scheduled and/or unscheduled), survival, morbidity (disease progression, stroke, etc.), patient satisfaction, and quality of life.
Summary of Findings
The MAS evidence review was performed to review available evidence on Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs published until September 2010. The search identified 6 systematic reviews, 7 randomized controlled trials, and 19 reports for 16 cohort studies—3 of these being registry-based and 4 being multi-centered. The evidence is summarized in the 3 sections that follow.
1. Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems of CIEDs for Cardiac Arrhythmia and Device Functioning
In total, 15 reports on 13 cohort studies involving investigations with 4 different RMSs for CIEDs in cardiology implant clinic groups were identified in the review. The 4 RMSs were: Care Link Network® (Medtronic Inc,, Minneapolis, MN, USA); Home Monitoring® (Biotronic, Berlin, Germany); House Call 11® (St Jude Medical Inc., St Pauls, MN, USA); and a manufacturer-independent RMS. Eight of these reports were with the Home Monitoring® RMS (12,949 patients), 3 were with the Care Link® RMS (167 patients), 1 was with the House Call 11® RMS (124 patients), and 1 was with a manufacturer-independent RMS (44 patients). All of the studies, except for 2 in the United States, (1 with Home Monitoring® and 1 with House Call 11®), were performed in European countries.
The RMSs in the studies were evaluated with different cardiac implant device populations: ICDs only (6 studies), ICD and CRT devices (3 studies), PM and ICD and CRT devices (4 studies), and PMs only (2 studies). The patient populations were predominately male (range, 52%–87%) in all studies, with mean ages ranging from 58 to 76 years. One study population was unique in that RMSs were evaluated for ICDs implanted solely for primary prevention in young patients (mean age, 44 years) with Brugada syndrome, which carries an inherited increased genetic risk for sudden heart attack in young adults.
Most of the cohort studies reported on the feasibility of RMSs in clinical settings with limited follow-up. In the short follow-up periods of the studies, the majority of the events were related to detection of medical events rather than system configuration or device abnormalities. The results of the studies are summarized below:
The interrogation of devices on the web platform, both for continuous and scheduled transmissions, was significantly quicker with remote follow-up, both for nurses and physicians.
In a case-control study focusing on a Brugada population–based registry with patients followed-up remotely, there were significantly fewer outpatient visits and greater detection of inappropriate shocks. One death occurred in the control group not followed remotely and post-mortem analysis indicated early signs of lead failure prior to the event.
Two studies examined the role of RMSs in following ICD leads under regulatory advisory in a European clinical setting and noted:
– Fewer inappropriate shocks were administered in the RM group.
– Urgent in-office interrogations and surgical revisions were performed within 12 days of remote alerts.
– No signs of lead fracture were detected at in-office follow-up; all were detected at remote follow-up.
Only 1 study reported evaluating quality of life in patients followed up remotely at 3 and 6 months; no values were reported.
Patient satisfaction was evaluated in 5 cohort studies, all in short term follow-up: 1 for the Home Monitoring® RMS, 3 for the Care Link® RMS, and 1 for the House Call 11® RMS.
– Patients reported receiving a sense of security from the transmitter, a good relationship with nurses and physicians, positive implications for their health, and satisfaction with RM and organization of services.
– Although patients reported that the system was easy to implement and required less than 10 minutes to transmit information, a variable proportion of patients (range, 9% 39%) reported that they needed the assistance of a caregiver for their transmission.
– The majority of patients would recommend RM to other ICD patients.
– Patients with hearing or other physical or mental conditions hindering the use of the system were excluded from studies, but the frequency of this was not reported.
Physician satisfaction was evaluated in 3 studies, all with the Care Link® RMS:
– Physicians reported an ease of use and high satisfaction with a generally short-term use of the RMS.
– Physicians reported being able to address the problems in unscheduled patient transmissions or physician initiated transmissions remotely, and were able to handle the majority of the troubleshooting calls remotely.
– Both nurses and physicians reported a high level of satisfaction with the web registry system.
2. Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems in Heart Failure Patients for Cardiac Arrhythmia and Heart Failure Episodes
Remote follow-up of HF patients implanted with ICD or CRT devices, generally managed in specialized HF clinics, was evaluated in 3 cohort studies: 1 involved the Home Monitoring® RMS and 2 involved the Care Link® RMS. In these RMSs, in addition to the standard diagnostic features, the cardiac devices continuously assess other variables such as patient activity, mean heart rate, and heart rate variability. Intra-thoracic impedance, a proxy measure for lung fluid overload, was also measured in the Care Link® studies. The overall diagnostic performance of these measures cannot be evaluated, as the information was not reported for patients who did not experience intra-thoracic impedance threshold crossings or did not undergo interventions. The trial results involved descriptive information on transmissions and alerts in patients experiencing high morbidity and hospitalization in the short study periods.
3. Comparative Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems for CIEDs
Seven RCTs were identified evaluating RMSs for CIEDs: 2 were for PMs (1276 patients) and 5 were for ICD/CRT devices (3733 patients). Studies performed in the clinical setting in the United States involved both the Care Link® RMS and the Home Monitoring® RMS, whereas all studies performed in European countries involved only the Home Monitoring® RMS.
3A. Randomized Controlled Trials of Remote Monitoring Systems for Pacemakers
Two trials, both multicenter RCTs, were conducted in different countries with different RMSs and study objectives. The PREFER trial was a large trial (897 patients) performed in the United States examining the ability of Care Link®, an Internet-based remote PM interrogation system, to detect clinically actionable events (CAEs) sooner than the current in-office follow-up supplemented with transtelephonic monitoring transmissions, a limited form of remote device interrogation. The trial results are summarized below:
In the 375-day mean follow-up, 382 patients were identified with at least 1 CAE—111 patients in the control arm and 271 in the remote arm.
The event rate detected per patient for every type of CAE, except for loss of atrial capture, was higher in the remote arm than the control arm.
The median time to first detection of CAEs (4.9 vs. 6.3 months) was significantly shorter in the RMS group compared to the control group (P < 0.0001).
Additionally, only 2% (3/190) of the CAEs in the control arm were detected during a transtelephonic monitoring transmission (the rest were detected at in-office follow-ups), whereas 66% (446/676) of the CAEs were detected during remote interrogation.
The second study, the OEDIPE trial, was a smaller trial (379 patients) performed in France evaluating the ability of the Home Monitoring® RMS to shorten PM post-operative hospitalization while preserving the safety of conventional management of longer hospital stays.
Implementation and operationalization of the RMS was reported to be successful in 91% (346/379) of the patients and represented 8144 transmissions.
In the RM group 6.5% of patients failed to send messages (10 due to improper use of the transmitter, 2 with unmanageable stress). Of the 172 patients transmitting, 108 patients sent a total of 167 warnings during the trial, with a greater proportion of warnings being attributed to medical rather than technical causes.
Forty percent had no warning message transmission and among these, 6 patients experienced a major adverse event and 1 patient experienced a non-major adverse event. Of the 6 patients having a major adverse event, 5 contacted their physician.
The mean medical reaction time was faster in the RM group (6.5 ± 7.6 days vs. 11.4 ± 11.6 days).
The mean duration of hospitalization was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) for the RM group than the control group (3.2 ± 3.2 days vs. 4.8 ± 3.7 days).
Quality of life estimates by the SF-36 questionnaire were similar for the 2 groups at 1-month follow-up.
3B. Randomized Controlled Trials Evaluating Remote Monitoring Systems for ICD or CRT Devices
The 5 studies evaluating the impact of RMSs with ICD/CRT devices were conducted in the United States and in European countries and involved 2 RMSs—Care Link® and Home Monitoring ®. The objectives of the trials varied and 3 of the trials were smaller pilot investigations.
The first of the smaller studies (151 patients) evaluated patient satisfaction, achievement of patient outcomes, and the cost-effectiveness of the Care Link® RMS compared to quarterly in-office device interrogations with 1-year follow-up.
Individual outcomes such as hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and unscheduled clinic visits were not significantly different between the study groups.
Except for a significantly higher detection of atrial fibrillation in the RM group, data on ICD detection and therapy were similar in the study groups.
Health-related quality of life evaluated by the EuroQoL at 6-month or 12-month follow-up was not different between study groups.
Patients were more satisfied with their ICD care in the clinic follow-up group than in the remote follow-up group at 6-month follow-up, but were equally satisfied at 12- month follow-up.
The second small pilot trial (20 patients) examined the impact of RM follow-up with the House Call 11® system on work schedules and cost savings in patients randomized to 2 study arms varying in the degree of remote follow-up.
The total time including device interrogation, transmission time, data analysis, and physician time required was significantly shorter for the RM follow-up group.
The in-clinic waiting time was eliminated for patients in the RM follow-up group.
The physician talk time was significantly reduced in the RM follow-up group (P < 0.05).
The time for the actual device interrogation did not differ in the study groups.
The third small trial (115 patients) examined the impact of RM with the Home Monitoring® system compared to scheduled trimonthly in-clinic visits on the number of unplanned visits, total costs, health-related quality of life (SF-36), and overall mortality.
There was a 63.2% reduction in in-office visits in the RM group.
Hospitalizations or overall mortality (values not stated) were not significantly different between the study groups.
Patient-induced visits were higher in the RM group than the in-clinic follow-up group.
The TRUST Trial
The TRUST trial was a large multicenter RCT conducted at 102 centers in the United States involving the Home Monitoring® RMS for ICD devices for 1450 patients. The primary objectives of the trial were to determine if remote follow-up could be safely substituted for in-office clinic follow-up (3 in-office visits replaced) and still enable earlier physician detection of clinically actionable events.
Adherence to the protocol follow-up schedule was significantly higher in the RM group than the in-office follow-up group (93.5% vs. 88.7%, P < 0.001).
Actionability of trimonthly scheduled checks was low (6.6%) in both study groups. Overall, actionable causes were reprogramming (76.2%), medication changes (24.8%), and lead/system revisions (4%), and these were not different between the 2 study groups.
The overall mean number of in-clinic and hospital visits was significantly lower in the RM group than the in-office follow-up group (2.1 per patient-year vs. 3.8 per patient-year, P < 0.001), representing a 45% visit reduction at 12 months.
The median time from onset of first arrhythmia to physician evaluation was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) in the RM group than in the in-office follow-up group for all arrhythmias (1 day vs. 35.5 days).
The median time to detect clinically asymptomatic arrhythmia events—atrial fibrillation (AF), ventricular fibrillation (VF), ventricular tachycardia (VT), and supra-ventricular tachycardia (SVT)—was also significantly shorter (P < 0.001) in the RM group compared to the in-office follow-up group (1 day vs. 41.5 days) and was significantly quicker for each of the clinical arrhythmia events—AF (5.5 days vs. 40 days), VT (1 day vs. 28 days), VF (1 day vs. 36 days), and SVT (2 days vs. 39 days).
System-related problems occurred infrequently in both groups—in 1.5% of patients (14/908) in the RM group and in 0.7% of patients (3/432) in the in-office follow-up group.
The overall adverse event rate over 12 months was not significantly different between the 2 groups and individual adverse events were also not significantly different between the RM group and the in-office follow-up group: death (3.4% vs. 4.9%), stroke (0.3% vs. 1.2%), and surgical intervention (6.6% vs. 4.9%), respectively.
The 12-month cumulative survival was 96.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 95.5%–97.6%) in the RM group and 94.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 91.8%–96.6%) in the in-office follow-up group, and was not significantly different between the 2 groups (P = 0.174).
The CONNECT Trial
The CONNECT trial, another major multicenter RCT, involved the Care Link® RMS for ICD/CRT devices in a15-month follow-up study of 1,997 patients at 133 sites in the United States. The primary objective of the trial was to determine whether automatically transmitted physician alerts decreased the time from the occurrence of clinically relevant events to medical decisions. The trial results are summarized below:
Of the 575 clinical alerts sent in the study, 246 did not trigger an automatic physician alert. Transmission failures were related to technical issues such as the alert not being programmed or not being reset, and/or a variety of patient factors such as not being at home and the monitor not being plugged in or set up.
The overall mean time from the clinically relevant event to the clinical decision was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) by 17.4 days in the remote follow-up group (4.6 days for 172 patients) than the in-office follow-up group (22 days for 145 patients).
– The median time to a clinical decision was shorter in the remote follow-up group than in the in-office follow-up group for an AT/AF burden greater than or equal to 12 hours (3 days vs. 24 days) and a fast VF rate greater than or equal to 120 beats per minute (4 days vs. 23 days).
Although infrequent, similar low numbers of events involving low battery and VF detection/therapy turned off were noted in both groups. More alerts, however, were noted for out-of-range lead impedance in the RM group (18 vs. 6 patients), and the time to detect these critical events was significantly shorter in the RM group (same day vs. 17 days).
Total in-office clinic visits were reduced by 38% from 6.27 visits per patient-year in the in-office follow-up group to 3.29 visits per patient-year in the remote follow-up group.
Health care utilization visits (N = 6,227) that included cardiovascular-related hospitalization, emergency department visits, and unscheduled clinic visits were not significantly higher in the remote follow-up group.
The overall mean length of hospitalization was significantly shorter (P = 0.002) for those in the remote follow-up group (3.3 days vs. 4.0 days) and was shorter both for patients with ICD (3.0 days vs. 3.6 days) and CRT (3.8 days vs. 4.7 days) implants.
The mortality rate between the study arms was not significantly different between the follow-up groups for the ICDs (P = 0.31) or the CRT devices with defribillator (P = 0.46).
Conclusions
There is limited clinical trial information on the effectiveness of RMSs for PMs. However, for RMSs for ICD devices, multiple cohort studies and 2 large multicenter RCTs demonstrated feasibility and significant reductions in in-office clinic follow-ups with RMSs in the first year post implantation. The detection rates of clinically significant events (and asymptomatic events) were higher, and the time to a clinical decision for these events was significantly shorter, in the remote follow-up groups than in the in-office follow-up groups. The earlier detection of clinical events in the remote follow-up groups, however, was not associated with lower morbidity or mortality rates in the 1-year follow-up. The substitution of almost all the first year in-office clinic follow-ups with RM was also not associated with an increased health care utilization such as emergency department visits or hospitalizations.
The follow-up in the trials was generally short-term, up to 1 year, and was a more limited assessment of potential longer term device/lead integrity complications or issues. None of the studies compared the different RMSs, particularly the different RMSs involving patient-scheduled transmissions or automatic transmissions. Patients’ acceptance of and satisfaction with RM were reported to be high, but the impact of RM on patients’ health-related quality of life, particularly the psychological aspects, was not evaluated thoroughly. Patients who are not technologically competent, having hearing or other physical/mental impairments, were identified as potentially disadvantaged with remote surveillance. Cohort studies consistently identified subgroups of patients who preferred in-office follow-up. The evaluation of costs and workflow impact to the health care system were evaluated in European or American clinical settings, and only in a limited way.
Internet-based device-assisted RMSs involve a new approach to monitoring patients, their disease progression, and their CIEDs. Remote monitoring also has the potential to improve the current postmarket surveillance systems of evolving CIEDs and their ongoing hardware and software modifications. At this point, however, there is insufficient information to evaluate the overall impact to the health care system, although the time saving and convenience to patients and physicians associated with a substitution of in-office follow-up by RM is more certain. The broader issues surrounding infrastructure, impacts on existing clinical care systems, and regulatory concerns need to be considered for the implementation of Internet-based RMSs in jurisdictions involving different clinical practices.
PMCID: PMC3377571  PMID: 23074419
16.  Aspirin for vascular dementia 
Background
Aspirin is widely prescribed for patients with a diagnosis of vascular dementia. In a survey of UK geriatricians and psychiatrists 80% of patients with clinical diagnoses of vascular dementia were prescribed aspirin. However, a number of queries remain unanswered. Is there convincing evidence that aspirin benefits patients with vascular dementia? Does aspirin affect cognition and behaviour, or improve prognosis? Does the risk of cerebral or gastric haemorrhage outweigh any benefit?
Objectives
To assess the randomised trial evidence for efficacy and safety of aspirin in the treatment of vascular dementia.
Search methods
We searched ALOIS: the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group’s Specialized Register on 12 March 2012 using the terms: aspirin OR “acetylsalicylic acid”. ALOIS contains records of clinical trials identified from monthly searches of a number of major healthcare databases, numerous trial registries and grey literature sources.
In addition, relevant websites were searched and some journals were handsearched. Specialists in the field were approached for unpublished material and any publications found were searched for additional references.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials investigating the effect of aspirin for vascular dementia were eligible for inclusion.
Data collection and analysis
Retrieved studies were analysed independently by both review authors. Methodology and results were critically appraised and outcomes scanned included cognition, behavioural change, mortality and institutionalisation.
Main results
No trials were eligible for inclusion in this review.
Authors’ conclusions
The most recent search for references to relevant research was carried out in March 2012. No trials were found for inclusion in this systematic review.
Low-dose aspirin is frequently used as ‘treatment as normal’ in control groups and as a baseline treatment in pharmacological trials.
There is still no good evidence that aspirin is effective in treating patients with a diagnosis of vascular dementia.
There is increasing concern that low-dose aspirin is associated with increased risk of haemorrhages.
Further research is needed to assess the effect of aspirin on cognition, and on other outcomes such as haemorrhages, mortality, institutionalisation and behaviour.
However, the feasibility of such research is limited by a number of factors, including the widespread use of low-dose aspirin for secondary prevention of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular conditions, and its low cost and lack of patent, which limit commercial interest in investing in these studies. In addition, there is increasing evidence of its potential to cause harm from haemorrhages, especially gastric and cerebral haemorrhages that can be fatal.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001296
PMCID: PMC4171457  PMID: 11034710
Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal [* therapeutic use]; Aspirin [* therapeutic use]; Cognition Disorders [drug therapy]; Dementia, Vascular [* drug therapy; mortality]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Humans
17.  Assisting Consumer Health Information Retrieval with Query Recommendations 
Objective: Health information retrieval (HIR) on the Internet has become an important practice for millions of people, many of whom have problems forming effective queries. We have developed and evaluated a tool to assist people in health-related query formation.
Design: We developed the Health Information Query Assistant (HIQuA) system. The system suggests alternative/additional query terms related to the user's initial query that can be used as building blocks to construct a better, more specific query. The recommended terms are selected according to their semantic distance from the original query, which is calculated on the basis of concept co-occurrences in medical literature and log data as well as semantic relations in medical vocabularies.
Measurements: An evaluation of the HIQuA system was conducted and a total of 213 subjects participated in the study. The subjects were randomized into 2 groups. One group was given query recommendations and the other was not. Each subject performed HIR for both a predefined and a self-defined task.
Results: The study showed that providing HIQuA recommendations resulted in statistically significantly higher rates of successful queries (odds ratio = 1.66, 95% confidence interval = 1.16–2.38), although no statistically significant impact on user satisfaction or the users' ability to accomplish the predefined retrieval task was found.
Conclusion: Providing semantic-distance-based query recommendations can help consumers with query formation during HIR.
doi:10.1197/jamia.M1820
PMCID: PMC1380203  PMID: 16221944
18.  GO2PUB: Querying PubMed with semantic expansion of gene ontology terms 
Background
With the development of high throughput methods of gene analyses, there is a growing need for mining tools to retrieve relevant articles in PubMed. As PubMed grows, literature searches become more complex and time-consuming. Automated search tools with good precision and recall are necessary. We developed GO2PUB to automatically enrich PubMed queries with gene names, symbols and synonyms annotated by a GO term of interest or one of its descendants.
Results
GO2PUB enriches PubMed queries based on selected GO terms and keywords. It processes the result and displays the PMID, title, authors, abstract and bibliographic references of the articles. Gene names, symbols and synonyms that have been generated as extra keywords from the GO terms are also highlighted. GO2PUB is based on a semantic expansion of PubMed queries using the semantic inheritance between terms through the GO graph. Two experts manually assessed the relevance of GO2PUB, GoPubMed and PubMed on three queries about lipid metabolism. Experts’ agreement was high (kappa = 0.88). GO2PUB returned 69% of the relevant articles, GoPubMed: 40% and PubMed: 29%. GO2PUB and GoPubMed have 17% of their results in common, corresponding to 24% of the total number of relevant results. 70% of the articles returned by more than one tool were relevant. 36% of the relevant articles were returned only by GO2PUB, 17% only by GoPubMed and 14% only by PubMed. For determining whether these results can be generalized, we generated twenty queries based on random GO terms with a granularity similar to those of the first three queries and compared the proportions of GO2PUB and GoPubMed results. These were respectively of 77% and 40% for the first queries, and of 70% and 38% for the random queries. The two experts also assessed the relevance of seven of the twenty queries (the three related to lipid metabolism and four related to other domains). Expert agreement was high (0.93 and 0.8). GO2PUB and GoPubMed performances were similar to those of the first queries.
Conclusions
We demonstrated that the use of genes annotated by either GO terms of interest or a descendant of these GO terms yields some relevant articles ignored by other tools. The comparison of GO2PUB, based on semantic expansion, with GoPubMed, based on text mining techniques, showed that both tools are complementary. The analysis of the randomly-generated queries suggests that the results obtained about lipid metabolism can be generalized to other biological processes. GO2PUB is available at http://go2pub.genouest.org.
doi:10.1186/2041-1480-3-7
PMCID: PMC3599846  PMID: 22958570
Gene ontology; Semantic expansion; Query enrichment; PubMed
19.  OReFiL: an online resource finder for life sciences 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8:287.
Background
Many online resources for the life sciences have been developed and introduced in peer-reviewed papers recently, ranging from databases and web applications to data-analysis software. Some have been introduced in special journal issues or websites with a search function, but others remain scattered throughout the Internet and in the published literature. The searchable resources on these sites are collected and maintained manually and are therefore of higher quality than automatically updated sites, but also require more time and effort.
Description
We developed an online resource search system called OReFiL to address these issues. We developed a crawler to gather all of the web pages whose URLs appear in MEDLINE abstracts and full-text papers on the BioMed Central open-access journals. The URLs were extracted using regular expressions and rules based on our heuristic knowledge. We then indexed the online resources to facilitate their retrieval and comparison by researchers. Because every online resource has at least one PubMed ID, we can easily acquire its summary with Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms and confirm its credibility through reference to the corresponding PubMed entry. In addition, because OReFiL automatically extracts URLs and updates the index, minimal time and effort is needed to maintain the system.
Conclusion
We developed OReFiL, a search system for online life science resources, which is freely available. The system's distinctive features include the ability to return up-to-date query-relevant online resources introduced in peer-reviewed papers; the ability to search using free words, MeSH terms, or author names; easy verification of each hit following links to the corresponding PubMed entry or to papers citing the URL through the search systems of BioMed Central, Scirus, HighWire Press, or Google Scholar; and quick confirmation of the existence of an online resource web page.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-287
PMCID: PMC1976328  PMID: 17683589
20.  An ontology-based comparative anatomy information system 
Introduction
This paper describes the design, implementation, and potential use of a comparative anatomy information system (CAIS) for querying on similarities and differences between homologous anatomical structures across species, the knowledge base it operates upon, the method it uses for determining the answers to the queries, and the user interface it employs to present the results. The relevant informatics contributions of our work include (1) the development and application of the structural difference method, a formalism for symbolically representing anatomical similarities and differences across species; (2) the design of the structure of a mapping between the anatomical models of two different species and its application to information about specific structures in humans, mice, and rats; and (3) the design of the internal syntax and semantics of the query language. These contributions provide the foundation for the development of a working system that allows users to submit queries about the similarities and differences between mouse, rat, and human anatomy; delivers result sets that describe those similarities and differences in symbolic terms; and serves as a prototype for the extension of the knowledge base to any number of species. Additionally, we expanded the domain knowledge by identifying medically relevant structural questions for the human, the mouse, and the rat, and made an initial foray into the validation of the application and its content by means of user questionnaires, software testing, and other feedback.
Methods
The anatomical structures of the species to be compared, as well as the mappings between species, are modeled on templates from the Foundational Model of Anatomy knowledge base, and compared using graph-matching techniques. A graphical user interface allows users to issue queries that retrieve information concerning similarities and differences between structures in the species being examined. Queries from diverse information sources, including domain experts, peer-reviewed articles, and reference books, have been used to test the system and to illustrate its potential use in comparative anatomy studies.
Results
157 test queries were submitted to the CAIS system, and all of them were correctly answered. The interface was evaluated in terms of clarity and ease of use. This testing determined that the application works well, and is fairly intuitive to use, but users want to see more clarification of the meaning of the different types of possible queries. Some of the interface issues will naturally be resolved as we refine our conceptual model to deal with partial and complex homologies in the content.
Conclusions
The CAIS system and its associated methods are expected to be useful to biologists and translational medicine researchers. Possible applications range from supporting theoretical work in clarifying and modeling ontogenetic, physiological, pathological, and evolutionary transformations, to concrete techniques for improving the analysis of genotype–phenotype relationships among various animal models in support of a wide array of clinical and scientific initiatives.
doi:10.1016/j.artmed.2010.10.001
PMCID: PMC3055271  PMID: 21146377
Ontology; Anatomy; Comparative anatomy; Knowledge base; Protégé; Homology; Graph matching; Graph similarity; Isomorphism; Foundational Model of Anatomy
21.  Surveillance for the prevention of chronic diseases through information association 
Background
Research on Genomic medicine has suggested that the exposure of patients to early life risk factors may induce the development of chronic diseases in adulthood, as the presence of premature risk factors can influence gene expression. The large number of scientific papers published in this research area makes it difficult for the healthcare professional to keep up with individual results and to establish association between them. Therefore, in our work we aim at building a computational system that will offer an innovative approach that alerts health professionals about human development problems such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Methods
We built a computational system called Chronic Illness Surveillance System (CISS), which retrieves scientific studies that establish associations (conceptual relationships) between chronic diseases (cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity) and the risk factors described on clinical records. To evaluate our approach, we submitted ten queries to CISS as well as to three other search engines (Google™, Google Scholar™ and Pubmed®;) — the queries were composed of terms and expressions from a list of risk factors provided by specialists.
Results
CISS retrieved a higher number of closely related (+) and somewhat related (+/-) documents, and a smaller number of unrelated (-) and almost unrelated (-/+) documents, in comparison with the three other systems. The results from the Friedman’s test carried out with the post-hoc Holm procedure (95% confidence) for our system (control) versus the results for the three other engines indicate that our system had the best performance in three of the categories (+), (-) and (+/-). This is an important result, since these are the most relevant categories for our users.
Conclusion
Our system should be able to assist researchers and health professionals in finding out relationships between potential risk factors and chronic diseases in scientific papers.
doi:10.1186/1755-8794-7-7
PMCID: PMC3938472  PMID: 24479447
Biomedical informatics; Retrieval and application of biomedical knowledge and information; Medical records and scientific papers; Ontology
22.  Federated ontology-based queries over cancer data 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13(Suppl 1):S9.
Background
Personalised medicine provides patients with treatments that are specific to their genetic profiles. It requires efficient data sharing of disparate data types across a variety of scientific disciplines, such as molecular biology, pathology, radiology and clinical practice. Personalised medicine aims to offer the safest and most effective therapeutic strategy based on the gene variations of each subject. In particular, this is valid in oncology, where knowledge about genetic mutations has already led to new therapies. Current molecular biology techniques (microarrays, proteomics, epigenetic technology and improved DNA sequencing technology) enable better characterisation of cancer tumours. The vast amounts of data, however, coupled with the use of different terms - or semantic heterogeneity - in each discipline makes the retrieval and integration of information difficult.
Results
Existing software infrastructures for data-sharing in the cancer domain, such as caGrid, support access to distributed information. caGrid follows a service-oriented model-driven architecture. Each data source in caGrid is associated with metadata at increasing levels of abstraction, including syntactic, structural, reference and domain metadata. The domain metadata consists of ontology-based annotations associated with the structural information of each data source. However, caGrid's current querying functionality is given at the structural metadata level, without capitalising on the ontology-based annotations. This paper presents the design of and theoretical foundations for distributed ontology-based queries over cancer research data. Concept-based queries are reformulated to the target query language, where join conditions between multiple data sources are found by exploiting the semantic annotations. The system has been implemented, as a proof of concept, over the caGrid infrastructure. The approach is applicable to other model-driven architectures. A graphical user interface has been developed, supporting ontology-based queries over caGrid data sources. An extensive evaluation of the query reformulation technique is included.
Conclusions
To support personalised medicine in oncology, it is crucial to retrieve and integrate molecular, pathology, radiology and clinical data in an efficient manner. The semantic heterogeneity of the data makes this a challenging task. Ontologies provide a formal framework to support querying and integration. This paper provides an ontology-based solution for querying distributed databases over service-oriented, model-driven infrastructures.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S1-S9
PMCID: PMC3471355  PMID: 22373043
23.  Design and Development of a Linked Open Data-Based Health Information Representation and Visualization System: Potentials and Preliminary Evaluation 
JMIR Medical Informatics  2014;2(2):e31.
Background
Healthcare organizations around the world are challenged by pressures to reduce cost, improve coordination and outcome, and provide more with less. This requires effective planning and evidence-based practice by generating important information from available data. Thus, flexible and user-friendly ways to represent, query, and visualize health data becomes increasingly important. International organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) regularly publish vital data on priority health topics that can be utilized for public health policy and health service development. However, the data in most portals is displayed in either Excel or PDF formats, which makes information discovery and reuse difficult. Linked Open Data (LOD)—a new Semantic Web set of best practice of standards to publish and link heterogeneous data—can be applied to the representation and management of public level health data to alleviate such challenges. However, the technologies behind building LOD systems and their effectiveness for health data are yet to be assessed.
Objective
The objective of this study is to evaluate whether Linked Data technologies are potential options for health information representation, visualization, and retrieval systems development and to identify the available tools and methodologies to build Linked Data-based health information systems.
Methods
We used the Resource Description Framework (RDF) for data representation, Fuseki triple store for data storage, and Sgvizler for information visualization. Additionally, we integrated SPARQL query interface for interacting with the data. We primarily use the WHO health observatory dataset to test the system. All the data were represented using RDF and interlinked with other related datasets on the Web of Data using Silk—a link discovery framework for Web of Data. A preliminary usability assessment was conducted following the System Usability Scale (SUS) method.
Results
We developed an LOD-based health information representation, querying, and visualization system by using Linked Data tools. We imported more than 20,000 HIV-related data elements on mortality, prevalence, incidence, and related variables, which are freely available from the WHO global health observatory database. Additionally, we automatically linked 5312 data elements from DBpedia, Bio2RDF, and LinkedCT using the Silk framework. The system users can retrieve and visualize health information according to their interests. For users who are not familiar with SPARQL queries, we integrated a Linked Data search engine interface to search and browse the data. We used the system to represent and store the data, facilitating flexible queries and different kinds of visualizations. The preliminary user evaluation score by public health data managers and users was 82 on the SUS usability measurement scale. The need to write queries in the interface was the main reported difficulty of LOD-based systems to the end user.
Conclusions
The system introduced in this article shows that current LOD technologies are a promising alternative to represent heterogeneous health data in a flexible and reusable manner so that they can serve intelligent queries, and ultimately support decision-making. However, the development of advanced text-based search engines is necessary to increase its usability especially for nontechnical users. Further research with large datasets is recommended in the future to unfold the potential of Linked Data and Semantic Web for future health information systems development.
doi:10.2196/medinform.3531
PMCID: PMC4288106  PMID: 25601195
Linked Open Data; Semantic Web; ontology; health information systems; HIV; WHO; public health; public health informatics; visualization
24.  Chronious: the last advances in telehealth monitoring systems 
The effectiveness of treatment depends on the patient’s ability to manage in the everyday life his/her chronic health status in accordance with the medical prescriptions outside the hospital settings. For this reason, the European Commission promotes research in tele-health applications, such as Chronious “An Open, Ubiquitous and Adaptive Chronic Disease Management Platform for COPD and Renal Insufficiency”. The aim is the improvement of healthcare service by offering an online health management solution that addresses the patient-professional interaction, personal data security, reduction of hospitalization and related costs. Chronious implements a modular hardware-software system that integrates existing healthcare legacy system, biomedical sensors, user interfaces and multi-parametric data processing with decision support system for patients and health professionals. Nowadays, very few of chronic disease management tools commercially available are accompanied with patient-professional interfaces for communication and education purposes. As added value, Chronious proposes lifestyle and mental support tools for the patients and ontological cross-lingual information retrieval system for clinicians for faster and easier queries to medical knowledge. The patient at home is equipped with a T-shirt able to record cardiac/respiratory/audio and activity signs, external devices (weight scale, glucometer, blood pressure monitoring device, spirometer, air quality sensor) and a touch-screen computer to send reminders on drugs intake and to collect information on dietary habits and mental status. All information are automatically transmitted via IP/GPRS to the Central System, that using a web-interface and ruled based algorithms allows clinicians to monitor patients status and give suggestions for acting in case of worsening trend or risk situation. As consequence, critical procedures that are quite complicated for the patient such as frequent/continuous monitoring, visits to hospitals, self-care are becoming straightforward and simpler. In addition, the information of the clinician is more direct, accurate and complete improving the prognosis for the chronic diseases and the selection of the most appropriate treatment planning. For validation purposes, Chronious is focused on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic kidney disease, being these widespread and highly expensive in terms of social and economic costs. The validation protocol considers also the most frequent related comorbidities, such as diabetes, involving the patients category which will take advantage of the highest foreseen benefits. This enables an open architecture for further applications. Project validation is divided in two progressive phases: the first one in hospital setting was aimed to verify on 50 patients if the delivered prototypes met the user requirements, the ergonomic and functional specifications. The second phase has observational features. The improved system is currently applied at home on 60 selected patients. Patients are instructed to use the system independently for an expected duration of 4 months each. In parallel, the patient is monitored with standard periodic outpatient checks. At the end, customer satisfaction and the predictive ability of the system in the evolution of the disease will be evaluated. First feedbacks are encouraging because Chronious monitoring provides friendly approaches to new technologies and reassures patients reducing the intervention time in critical situation.
PMCID: PMC3571130
chronic disease; patient-professional interfaces; lifestyle
25.  Query Log Analysis of an Electronic Health Record Search Engine 
We analyzed a longitudinal collection of query logs of a full-text search engine designed to facilitate information retrieval in electronic health records (EHR). The collection, 202,905 queries and 35,928 user sessions recorded over a course of 4 years, represents the information-seeking behavior of 533 medical professionals, including frontline practitioners, coding personnel, patient safety officers, and biomedical researchers for patient data stored in EHR systems. In this paper, we present descriptive statistics of the queries, a categorization of information needs manifested through the queries, as well as temporal patterns of the users’ information-seeking behavior. The results suggest that information needs in medical domain are substantially more sophisticated than those that general-purpose web search engines need to accommodate. Therefore, we envision there exists a significant challenge, along with significant opportunities, to provide intelligent query recommendations to facilitate information retrieval in EHR.
PMCID: PMC3243246  PMID: 22195150

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