European IT project to detect adverse drug reactions

A project recently approved by the EU, aims to exploit data from electronic healthcare records (EHRs) and biomedical databases to foster the early detection of adverse drug reactions (ADRs).

The scheme follows a number of high profile cases where adverse drug reactions have been reported in patients too late, when millions of patients had already been exposed. The project, called ALERT, aims to develop a computerised system, better and faster than spontaneous reporting. ALERT will use clinical data from the EHRs of over 30 million patients from the Netherlands, Denmark, UK and Italy. Text mining, epidemiological and other techniques will be employed to analyse the EHRs to detect suspected adverse events and combinations of drugs that warrant further study.

The project will emphasise the detection of ADRs in children, using paediatric data from all the countries represented, given the relative lack of knowledge of such events. It will also discriminate between signals pointing to a genuine ADR, and spurious signals, which can create unease in both patients and physicians and can result in the removal of a useful drug from the market. The project is funded by a euro 4.5 million grant from the European Commission.

Wireless tracking for mobile diagnostic imaging systems

A product has been developed for the optimised repair and tracking of mobile diagnostic imaging systems.

The tracking system aims to address the problem of locating and making repairs to such imaging systems, especially when their routes around the hospital change.

Philips Remote Services (PRS) uses global positioning system (GPS) location technology, internet data connectivity and standard voice service to diagnose and potentially repair the imaging equipment remotely.

The manufacturers said that PRS was developed to counteract issues such as delays caused to patient treatment following equipment malfunction.

“With the PRS for Mobiles, we can contact the units and diagnose problems more efficiently,” said Ketan Shah, senior manager of mobile enterprise for Philips Healthcare.

Diabetes telemedicine system tested

A hospital is piloting an innovative system which allows diabetic patients to monitor their blood sugar levels remotely. Patients at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital in Dorset, UK, can now carry out the tests at home and send their results back to be analysed over the Internet. Healthcare professionals then examine the data, and give 24-hour advice on how to manage the condition. Professor David Kerr, a senior consultant at The Bournemouth Diabetes and Endocrine Centre, said: “In the first instance, we have used the system to help people already established on insulin pump therapy, allowing them to wirelessly download data from their glucose meter or insulin pump into their home PC.

Axon TeleHealthCare developed the system, in partnership with the Royal Bournemouth Hospital centre. The device was launched in November last year, but the Royal Bournemouth is the first hospital in the UK to try it and it is not currently available on the NHS.

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