HealthFinland - Health Information on the Semantic Web
This page describes the research and prototype development of the semantic portal HealthFinland (TerveSuomi in Finnish). The system has been deployed in 2009 and is maintained by the National Institute for Health and Welfare at www.tervesuomi.fi.
Problems of Finding and Publishing Health Information
Health information is one of the most frequently searched content type on the web. However, a citizen searching for health information faces many challenges:
- The information is often published at organization-centric websites, requiring prior knowledge of the organizations involved.
- After finding a piece of interesting information, it is often tedious and difficult to find related relevant web resources.
- Outdated and broken links are common.
- Satisfying an end-user's information need often requires aggregation of content from several information providers.
- The quality and trustworthiness of information varies. In many cases it is difficult know whether a content is based on scientific results or layman opinions and rumors, or whether it is motivated by commercial interests.
- Research organizations that focus on scientific issues cannot necessarily communicate the results effectively to ordinarily citizens.
From the viewpoint of the health organizations, creating health information to citizens is also problematic in many ways:
- Several organizations locally create overlapping content, which is a waste of time and money on a global level, and is confusing to the end user.
- Content in web sites is usually minimally annotated for the purpose of presenting it on a particular site and for the particular purpose of the publisher. This makes it difficult and expensive for other organizations to re-use content across portals even if the portal owners were willing to do this.
- Maintaining links up-to-date is very costly and tedious, especially when dealing with links to external sites to which the maintainer and the content management system has no control.
A Solution: Semantic Publication System HealthFinland
HealthFinland (TerveSuomi in Finnish) is a semantic publication system whose goal is provide a new kind of solution approach to these problems on a national Finnish level. The system consists of three main components:
- Metadata, ontology, and service infrastructure. The system is based on domain independent W3C semantic web recommendations, a domain-specific metadata schema (Dublin Core application), and a set of ontologies and services provided within the National Ontology Service ONKI.
- Semantic content creation process. A content creation and harvesting system has been implemented for producing semantically annotated contents, based on the shared metadata model and ontologies.
- Semantic portal HealthFinland (TerveSuomi) and its services. The material is published
via a semantic portal that creates a single national entry-point for health
information, health promotion and health-related news. The information is
collected from a diverse group of sources including expert organizations,
governmental institutes and non-govermental organizations.
A quality control process ensures
that all information published through the portal is accessible, easy to
understand, relevant to the topic, and factually correct.
HealthFinland links and aggregates contents together automatically using semantic web technologies, based on shared ontologies (YSO, MeSH, TESA) and reasoning. The results are provided for the citizens from viewpoints that are natural and relevant to them. These viewpoints are often different e.g. from the medical ontological classifications that are used for indexing the data accurately from the experts' viewpoint.HealthFinland can be used by not only humans but by machines, too, using semantic widgets and AJAX for creating mash-up applications. This idea is analogous to using Google Maps services in external applications.
More detailed presentations of the system can be found in the publications below.
The Portal Prototype
The public HealthFinland portal prototype was published on Oct 12, 2008, see the SeCo news for more details.
The portal user interface is based on a view-based faceted browsing paradigm applied to suit the domain of health information. A demonstration video (8.6 MB, Flash required) is available. The user interface is available in Finnish, Swedish, and English, but most content is written in Finnish without translations.
The work on creating and maintaining HeathFinland on a national level is coordinated by the National Public Health Institute (Kansanterveyslaitos). See more information in English, in Finnish and in Swedish.
The prototype of the semantic publication system HealthFinland was developed and implemented by the SeCo group as a part of the national FinnONTO project.
Publications about HealthFinland
Professsor Eero Hyvönen,
Helsinki University of Technology, Laboratory of Media Technology and University of Helsinki, Department of Computer Science