Vol 67, No 1 (2016)
Original article
Published online: 2016-03-30

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An ontology-based consultation system to support medical care on board seagoing vessels

Gabrielle Carletti, Paolo Giuliodori, Vincenzo Di Pietri, Alessandro Peretti, Francesco Amenta
DOI: 10.5603/IMH.2016.0004
Pubmed: 27029924
IMH 2016;67(1):14-20.


Background: A realistic possibility to obtain medical care for patients located in remote sites such as seagoing vessels, in which health professionals are not available, is to contact a doctor via telecommunication systems. In general, the medical knowledge of who on board ships is in charge of medical care is quite limited and therefore, in a first level telemedical consultation, the flow of information should be correct and its efficiency should be maximised. This paper describes an application conceived to improve requests of medical assistance from sailing ships. The ultimate objective of this system is a) to standardise as much as possible the requests of medical advice at a distance, b) to overcome language barriers and jammed-related troubles that could make difficult or not understandable a telephone conversation.

Materials and methods: The application is based on a software engine extracting data from an ontological knowledgebase built ad hoc using Protégé.

Results: Compared to the conventional consultation systems based on telephone and e-mail, the proposed device is more accurate and complete in terms of information contained in the request of assistance. Moreover, data received by the medical centre can be more easily managed, as they can be standardised.

Conclusions: The system described here allows people responsible of medical care on board ships to forward detailed requests of assistance containing symptom-guided information on patient clinical conditions. This may represent an innovative tool for medical consultations at distance allowing the remote centre to provide more precise and quicker medical advice.  

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