Published on July 9, 2007
A proposed "medical grid system", in which records will be shared among hospitals is being developed under a project to speed up treatment for critically ill patients, potentially saving lives and providing better-quality healthcare.
With the development of the system, people will soon be able to receive improved medical treat ment without barriers, as doctors in each hospital will be able to share their patients' medical information and collaborate with each other to provide treatment.
The project is being developed by the government's Computer Centre and the Computer Science Department at Silpakorn University.
Centre director Panjai Tantasnawong says the project will utilise a grid-computing infrastructure, allowing hospitals around the nation to share medical information and collaborate on medical treatment.
Grid computing is a concept that applies the resources of many computers in a network to provide a higher level of computing power.
Panjai says hospitals will be able use this infrastructure for information exchange.
"Data exchange between hospitals over the network is not only about basic patient information. X-rays and blood test samples are also transferred, so it requires high computing power to help transmit and achieve high-quality results," she said.
Panjai said the centre plans to conduct the project in three key areas: the computer grid, the data grid and the access grid.
The development of the computer grid concerns rendering medically related information such as X-ray and CT scan images, while development of the data grid is medical information stored mainly as patient record data such as X-rays, lab results and ultrasound information.
Meanwhile, the development of the access grid will allow doctors in each hospital to access patient records and other data through the grid network.
To deploy all three components for use in real life, Panjai said an XML middleware called Data Agent is required, which will work as an agent or "broker" for each hospital to allow them, even if they use different back office and database systems, to communicate with others as well as to exchange medical documents and record files.
Siriraj Hospital and Rachaburi Hospital have been selected to become the pioneers as the prototype of the system is developed.
Panjai said the first programme prototype is expected to be completed with the next 12 months.
At this stage Siriraj Hospital and Rachaburi Hospital will undergo a trial period. After that, more hospitals will be invited to participate.
"The plan is that once the prototype system is completed, we will give it to the Information and Communications Technology Ministry for further deployment at government hospitals, government clinics and government healthcare centres nationwide," said Panjai.
The medial grid system can also be applied to related healthcare organisations such as the Social Security Office and the National Health Security Office, so that they can connect to the network as well.
"The beauty of the medical grid system is that it can provide resources to achieve better medical outcomes for patients in urgent cases, as well as help hospitals save cost and time so they provide better medical treatment," Panjai said.