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New social network for debating medical cases

SANAR, winner of the UPM IBM-Rational Chair prize, was developed by a Facultad de Informática PhD student

Noticia. Enviado por ingles válido desde 20/07/2012 hasta 10/06/2013 (caducado)

11 July 2012. One of the problems facing medical practitioners in emerging countries is the shortage of basic health infrastructures for effectively diagnosing diseases and administering treatments. SANAR, an online platform developed by Albert Moreira, a Universidad Politécnica de Madrid Facultad de Informática PhD student, aims to solve this problem. SANAR will improve information exchange among medical practitioners from different parts of the globe.

The UPM's IBM-Rational Chair awarded the Best Master's Thesis prize to Albert Moreira's research. The SANAR platform provides physicians with an environment where they can stage a medical case discussion via web, thereby overcoming the organizational problems of arranging group sessions or the cost and infrastructure constraints of videoconferencing meetings.

SANAR enables physicians and medical students to register as virtual platform users and present a clinical case on which they require advice, consult with other practitioners and add supplementary information like photos and videos. SANAR is really a social network that registered users can use to exchange information and viewpoints. Considering the sensitivity of the data to be handled, the platform implements several security protocols and procedures to guarantee secure information and image management.

Educational uses

This platform is also potentially useful for training future physicians.  “It is planned to evolve SANAR by building a module to better support case studies in an academic environment. This would be done by building an internal assessment module with questionnaires about a clinical cases and designing a communication system for the discussion of possible diagnoses and student assessment,” explains Albert Moreira.

Multidiscipinarity is a distinctive feature of SANAR justifying its use in a wide range of areas such as:

  • Image processing and analysis: application of morphological algorithms to radiology images to support medical diagnoses.
  • Software engineering: examination of how usability can contribute to a more comprehensive interaction among users. Another possible line of research is whether accessibility is likely to be a key issue for implementation.
  • Software engineering experimentation: development of controlled experiments to measure the different variables influencing interaction. Replication of experiments conducted as part of the thesis, using the tool at an advanced development stage.
  • Intelligent virtual environments: comparison of the particularities of user interaction with SANAR and with other collaborative environments targeting health or other domains. Another possibility would be to look at ways of integrating SANAR into 3D environments.
  • Data mining: data handling and application of classification and clustering algorithms for pattern detection.

Albert Moreira is now working on fine tuning platform security issues. To do this, SANAR is being hosted in a temporary server to test system errors and experiment with new functionalities. The goal is to release a version for a small team of practitioners in 2013 coinciding with the end of his doctoral research. These practitioners are expected to post relevant medical cases.

“This movement will be the groundwork for building and accepting key platform contents. From here, we will be able to open up the system to the whole medical community, including nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, dentists, etc.,” he explains.


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