IEEE IC Special Issue is Out

by Chimezie Ogbuji

Ogbuji, Chimezie;   Gomadam, Karthik;   Petrie, Charles;  
Case Western Reserve University 

This paper appears in: Internet Computing, IEEE
Issue Date: July-Aug. 2011
Volume: 15 Issue:4
On page(s): 10 - 13
ISSN: 1089-7801
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/MIC.2011.99 
Date of Current Version: 2011-06-30 10:41:12.0
Sponsored by: IEEE Computer Society 


Contemporary Web-based architectures can help address the technological and architectural challenges inherent to modern personal health record (PHR) systems. Current research in the area of healthcare informatics has focused on incorporating Web-based technology for PHR systems' primary functions. This special issue presents work in this area of research.


I received my complementary copy of this IEEE IC with the special issue on Personal Health Records that I was guest editor for. It turned out well in the end.

Indivo X - A Promising Framework for Personal Healthcare Records

Indivo X Alpha 1 released

A few days ago, we released the source code for the first public alpha of Indivo X, our latest vision for personally controlled health records. This is a release focused on the Indivo X API, targeted first at developers. Jump right into the installation instructions. (We don't recommend you use this version in a production environment just yet.)

Fred Trotter wrote up his first impressions, and ZDnet picked up the story on open-source and health-reform. We look forward to feedback from the community, and we're already hard at work on Alpha 2, which we expect to deliver in early Spring.

I recently came across the publicly available codebase for Indivo. I've read quite a bit about Indivo during my research regarding Personal Healthcare Records (PHRs). Indivo seems like the most promising for several reasons. First, it is being released to the public (at least a version of it). One of the reasons I have been really driven to learn more about the PHR market is my belief that the combination of social web, the emerging interests of patients to have more direct access to their healthcare data, and the significant stunting of adoption of contemporary web technologies for medical record systems will be a major catalyst to a new generation of health applications. There is alot of data that supports this trend. Second, the seminal paper by the authors of Indivo captures their vision of how PHRs will change the healthcare data landscape. It is a good read for anyone interested this phenomenon. Their vision appeals to me on a visceral level. There is something about the idea of a healthcare data revolution being sparked by patients themselves and their willingness to adopt value-adding technologies that otherwise their caretakers are perhaps too risk averse to consider that appeals to me.

Looking closely at the code base, I discovered that it is comprised of Python, Django, and Postgres. The SemanticDB patient registry is currently based on 4Suite, Python, a significant amount of XML processing and MySQL. I'm keen on building a simple hello-world PHR for managing my blood pressure readings and medications as a first iteration to see how far I can go with my current toolset: Akara (for the web infrastructure), Amara (for the XML processing), rdflib (for the RDF processing), FuXi (for any logical entailment and query re-writing), and CPR for the medical record ontology.

Indivo also includes a Python implementation of OAuth. I've been doing alot of research regarding how OAuth can be adopted as a cryptographically safe mechanism to delegate (subscribed) access to PHR content (similarly to facebook content subscription).

I will have alot more to say on this general topic.  Stay tuned!