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Department of Information Technology

IT and Medicine

In healthcare, as in many other parts of our society, the use of information technology has grown significantly and is showing no signs of stopping. Patients can now access their medical records over the Internet, a doctor may perform keyhole surgery from across the globe assisted by robots, and millions of cells can quickly be analyzed using computer clusters in the search for effective drugs against cancer.

Today, surgeons can perform surgery planning by touching and moving skeletal fragments through a computer program, based on X-ray images of patients with complicated fractures where pieces of the skeleton have come loose or are missing. This way the surgeon can get a better picture of how the operation needs to be performed, in what order the different pieces need to be returned to their correct position, thus reducing the risk of complications and the need for additional surgery. To be able to touch and feel objects that don?t really exist outside of a computer requires the transfer of so-called haptic information, which e.g. gives us the experience of an object having weight, softness and texture, to the user. The technology and software necessary to do this, as in the example above, is one of the areas of research and development where the Department of Information Technology is actively engaged.

Within health care, a lot of information is created, used and stored in the form of images, everything between images of individual cells under a microscope and X-ray images of a full person. Interpreting these images may be difficult, even for an experienced doctor. This can, for instance, be because the images may contain information that the human eye cannot perceive, but that a computer can identify and enhance for us, or that the sheer amount of images can mean that it would take years for a human to go through and analyze them all manually. At the Department of Information Technology, research is conducted with the aim of using computers to automate the processing of images so that they become easier for people to interpret, or to drastically speed up and simplify the analysis of large amounts of images that previously had to be performed manually.

The growing use of information technology in health care means that a staff member is seldom far from a technical system, and that they spend an increasing amount of their time in front of a computer. For many doctors and nurses this is perceived as a problem when it means that they can not spend as much time with their patients. At the Department of Information Technology, research is conducted in collaboration with health care providers to improve the effectiveness and usability of their IT systems, so that medical staff can perform their tasks in front of a computer efficiently and quickly move on to tasks where they feel that they are contributing more to their patients? care.

Updated  2016-12-08 11:45:30 by Peter Waites.