ERCIM News No.29 - April 1997

The GALEN-IN-USE Project

by AL Rector and Pieter Zanstra

The GALEN-IN-USE project is developing practical tools and techniques for managing medical language and terminology. It addresses the problems found by clinicians in entering and representing information about patients using traditional coding system and problems found by managers in using the information collected. It is providing a foundation on which to build the next generation of clinical information and electronic patient record systems ­ enabling technologies to allow clinical information to be captured, represented, manipulated, and displayed in radically more powerful ways. It supports inter-operability and information sharing amongst systems without imposing unrealistic uniformity. It supports intuitive user interfaces to be used directly by clinicians and aims to allow systems to be tailored rapidly to individual needs with respect to language, coding systems, and the level of detail recorded.

GALEN will collaborate with classification centres from many European countries and the European Federation of Classification Centres to demonstrate the use of the GALEN technologies for harmonising, developing, and maintaining terminologies for procedures. It will develop a Common Reference Model ­ analogous to a grammar and dictionary of concepts ­ which can be recombined and reorganised as required. Because it is based on a grammar and dictionary rather than a fixed set of terms or rubrics, GALEN's techniques allow great flexibility in tailoring the terminology to local and national needs.

The project delivers terminologies through Terminology Servers ­ software modules which hold the Common Reference Model, associated natural language lexicons1 and grammars, mappings to coding systems, and repositories for closely associated application-specific information. The Terminology Servers provide a common applications programming interface to the GALEN techniques and can also package complex concepts from the GALEN models as fixed-length indentifiers which can be used easily by standard database management systems.

The project will demonstrate the use of its terminologies and Terminology Servers in clinical systems for surgical reporting, general practice, and diabetes care in Finland, England and Bavaria respectively. The project is collaborating closely to provide a common terminology for the PRESTIGE project on delivering clinical protocols and has links with other Healthcare Telematics projects on medical records and protocol management.

Aims and Objectives

GALEN-IN-USE is a response to a specific user demand for improved terminologies for medical procedures. It aims to promote greater European harmonisation and to overcome the problems encountered in using traditional and coding and classification systems in this difficult area. The overall goals of the project are:

The project is focused on the development of terminologies for procedures with the specific objectives of producing:

The GALEN-IN-USE consortium includes University of Manchester (Coordinator), VAMP Health Ltd, UK; National Research Council, Italy; University of Saint Etienne, France; University of Nijmegen, Dutch National Classification Centre (WCC), Netherlands; European Federation of Classification Centres; Hôpital Universitaire de Geneva, LNAT Associates, Switzerland; Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), Oulu University Hospital, Medici Data Ltd, National Research & Development Centre for Welfare & Health, Finland; Swedish Institute for Health Services Development (SPRI), University of Linköping, Sweden; Office Line Engineering, RAMIT vzw, Datasoft, University of Louvain, Belgium; GSF Medis Institut, University of Hildesheim, ID Gesellschaft für Information und Dokumentation im Gesundheitswesen mbH, Germany; University of Athens, Greece; IASIST, Barcelona, Spain. Hewlett Packard and the Bavarian State Government are sponsoring partners.

More information at:

Please contact:
Chris Brand - GALEN Project Administrator, University of Manchester
Tel: +44 161 275 6133

return to the contents page