Monday, June 16, 2008

A graphical interface to medical knowledge

Developing a GUI for drug information ...

"In 'Road signs for physicians,' I've told you six weeks ago that French researchers had developed a new iconic drug information system named VCM, short for 'Visualization of Medical Knowledge.' Now, the same team has designed a graphical interface for facilitating the access to medical knowledge. Here is a link to a very technical paper about this graphical interface dubbed 'Mister VCM' and based on the VCM iconic language.

You can see (below) an example of the 'Mister VCM' interface. (Credit: Jean-Baptiste Lamy) This research project is the result of a collaboration between scientists Jean-Baptiste Lamy, Alain Venot, Avner Bar-Hen, Patrick Ouvrard and Catherine Duclos.

This research work has been published in a BioMed Central open access journal, BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making under the name "Design of a graphical and interactive interface for facilitating access to drug contraindications, cautions for use, interactions and adverse effects" (Volume 8, Article 21, June 2, 2008). The full article is available as a provisional PDF document (21 pages, 725 KB).

If you don't want to read the whole document, here is some background. "When prescribing a drug, the physician needs to ensure that the prescription is safe. However, medication errors are frequent and constitute a public health problem. Serious events reported to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) increased 4 times faster than the total number of outpatient prescriptions. In the prescription process, the physician must first decide whether he is sufficiently familiar with the various contraindications, drug interactions and cautions for use. If not, he must consult the drug monograph. It may take too long to read this monograph in full if the text is long, and this reading requires a cognitive effort."

This is why the researchers decided to develop a graphical user interface (GUI) to drug monographs. Here is the approach they've used: "(i) distinguishing a first, graphical, part of the screen that displays synthetical information about drug properties, on which the physician can interact in order to display drug monograph excerpts in a second, textual, part, (ii) dividing the graphical part in three zones, respectively for contraindications, cautions for use, and adverse effects, (iii) drawing an anatomical schema in each of the three zones, and (iv) representing the drug properties by adding interactive icons on these anatomical schemas; when one of these icons is clicked, the corresponding excerpts in the drug monograph is displayed in the textual part of the interface."    (Continued via Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends)    [Usability Resources]

Mister VCM - Usability, User Interface Design

Mister VCM

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