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HC2006, the 23rd Annual Health Informatics Conference in the UK, took place on March 20 to 22, 2006, at the Harrogate International Centre, Harrogate, UK, its traditional venue for almost 15 years. With the theme "Health Informatics: Making the Difference," the event combined the largest annual conference of its kind in Europe, with a large integrated exhibition.


The whole event was quieter than in recent years, with lower numbers attending the conference and few stands and attendees in the exhibition. This is, in part, probably because of a combination of factors within the health services in the UK that means that many suppliers do not see a need to exhibit their products because large purchasing decisions affecting the next 5 to 10 years have already been made. Another reason is that financial and service delivery pressures within the National Health Service make it difficult for many people to take the time or find the funding to attend such events.


As in much of the past 10 years, nursing has had little visibility or overt presence within this event, apart from the activities promoted by the British Computer Society Nursing Specialist Group ( The Nursing Specialist Group Annual General Meeting was followed by a workshop entitled "Communities, culture and coercion?" The workshop provided several perspectives on the National Programme for IT in the UK and the degree, or lack, of nursing engagement. Paula Procter (University of Sheffield) warned of the dangers of not engaging nurses in the processes of developing and delivering health information systems and electronic health records, while Rod Ward (University of the West of England) provided some initial results from a study measuring health professionals' attitudes to IT in the health services. Although the results are early and tentative, they challenge some of the received wisdom on what governs nurses' and others' attitudes regarding IT while supporting other prior studies. Rod suggested that age and sex are no longer as significant a factor as previous studies suggest, but whether IT links to current work practices is a factor, and the way in which IT is introduced is a significant factor and, if handled badly, leads to resistance and obstruction.


Among the other highlights of the event was Reinhold Haux of the Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany, president-elect of the International Medical Informatics Association, providing a master class on health informatics education. He explained that the need to consider developing health and medical informatics curricula is set in the context of changes in society and healthcare caused by the increasing use of IT, increases in the available knowledge base and the need to manage it, and the need for health professionals and health and medical informatics specialists to be educated in appropriate and responsible application of IT to health and healthcare. It was a useful session on the approaches to and examples of health and medical informatics courses and curricula.


Peter Elkin (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN) later on conducted a master class on human factors engineering. Peter covered some of the basic theory of human-computer interaction, beginning with the three elements-humans, activity, and context-within Bailey's Human Performance Model, and discussed the reasons why software and other IT products are often hard to use. These include design with an emphasis on the machine or system rather than the end users; the fact that the target audience is often a moving target; lack of full design specification; and development teams not being well integrated. Too often, he said, engineers design machines to talk to machines, but they are not the end users who must wrestle with the product. He stressed the need for user-centered design, including an early focus on the needs of users and the tasks they will perform and an empiric measurement of usage, often through usability testing laboratories (such as the one he heads).


Joan Edgcumbe from Health Informatics Society of Australia launched the call for submissions for medinfo2007, the 12th World Congress on Health (Medical) Informatics (


Other sessions included a tutorial on radio frequency identification and its applications in healthcare; a lively and humorous debate on the resolution that clinicians rather than informaticians are the real drivers to innovation in IT in healthcare, organized by The London and South East Health Informatics Specialist Group of the BCS, which ended with audience participation and a vote of 18 in favor and nine against the resolution; and updates on the Scottish and Welsh approaches to developing electronic health records and IT infrastructures within the health services in their countries, which contrasted with Richard Granger's update on the English situation.


A conference blog that I and my UK colleague Rod Ward developed is available at and provides a fuller report on the HC2006 event and many of the individual sessions and aspects.


HC2006 will take place on March 19 to 21, 2007, with the theme "Challenging boundaries." Further information will appear on the HC conference website at


Contributed by


Peter J. Murray, PhD, RN


Your contributions to Top Drawer (news, calendar items, products for review) are welcome. Send them to:


CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing Editorial Office 10A Beach St, Suite 2 Portland, ME 04101 Telephone: 207-553-7750 Fax: 207-553-7751 E-mail:



NI2006, the 9th International Congress on Nursing Informatics, will take place in Seoul, Korea, on June 11 to 14, 2006, with preconference tutorials on June 9 to 10. With the theme "Consumer-Centered Computer-Supported Care for Healthy People," the event will provide an opportunity for all nurses, and especially those with interest and involvement in all areas of nursing informatics, to share their research, ideas, and experiences. The venue will be the same as that used for medinfo98, the Seoul Convention and Exhibition Center, which is located at the Korea World Trade Center complex.


Almost 400 presentations are scheduled, including keynote presentations, peer-reviewed articles, posters, tutorials, workshops, demonstration, and panels. Presenters will come from nearly 40 countries, as diverse as United States, Taiwan, Japan, Cuba, Korea, Chile, and Finland. Among the subject areas that will be covered are education for consumers and health professionals, nursing and health standards, organizational impacts, telehealth, electronic health records, and many other aspects of the wide range of issues comprised by the discipline of nursing informatics.

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Keynote speakers include Roy Simpson from Cerner Corporation speaking on "Redefining nursing in a consumer-smart world," and Prof Thomas Wong from Hong Kong Polytechnic University talking about individual health profiling.


Among the sponsors of the event will be Siemens Medical Solutions, Cerner Corporation, and HIMSS, while educational supporters of the event, who will be in the exhibition, include University of Maryland School of Nursing, University of Utah, and University of Kuopio, Finland. Attendees will also be able to get the latest information on two important forthcoming events: medinfo2007 in Brisbane, Australia, and the next NI Congress in 2009 in Helsinki, Finland.


If you have not yet booked to attend, we urge you to do so. NI2006 will continue the long tradition of NI Congresses of combining a wide range of scientific content, including input from some of the leading experts in their fields, mixed with good social interaction, and the opportunity to meet colleagues from around the world. Full details, including registration forms, are on the conference Web site at If you are really not able to get there, then you can follow the event and have some degree of "virtual interaction" through the conference blog at


Contributed by


Peter J. Murray, PhD, RN


on behalf of the NI2006 Scientific Programme Committee



L. Jean Camp, associate professor at the Indiana University School of Informatics and an expert on privacy issues and how information technology affects individuals and society, has designed Net Trust, a system that allows individuals to select their own trusted sources of information and to rate particular sites as trustworthy or not. Camp recently received a $37 000 grant from Google to support system development.


Camp's system steers away from technical solutions without social, geographical, or physical context that have been proposed to evaluate the trustworthiness of Web sites and information and instead allows users to share their own information to assist others to determine whether a Web site is authentic.


Net Trust uses ratings from users' social networks and user-selected third parties to inform user decisions, as opposed to altering browser security settings. End users select a set of roles and a corresponding set of people for each role, such as co-workers or family members.


When users leave each Web site, they choose whether they want to share information about the sites they have visited. The user sends out a flow of information using a richsite summary, a format for syndicating Web content (often referred to as RSS news feeds), but that feed is not associated with an identifiable user.


Camp, who is affiliated with the IU Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, initiated the development of Net Trust when she was part of faculty at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She has been assisted in her research at IU by Alla Genkina, a School of Informatics graduate student.



A new feature added to the EBSCOhost search platform provides visual results, organized in a clickable map format that allows users to "browse the stacks," see connections between topic areas, sets, and subsets, drill down to specific listings, and zoom back to a topic overview with a few simple moves.


The new technology aims to avoid unending lists, which may bury important information and result in the "top 10" habit, in which users stop looking after the first page of results. It is intended to save time by allowing researchers to come up with focused resources rather than reading and exploring the text to find the necessary materials. It also offers a visually based approach to research, which will accommodate more learning styles and prompt new ways of thinking because of the way that connections between topics are presented.


A two-pane default view provides the topic map and specific information on selected listings. Circles on the topic map represent categories of results and often encompass subtopics, also represented by circles. Squares represent links to articles, books, reviews, and Web sites, and clicking on a link inside a square brings up the database listing on the right-hand pane. Results can be dynamically filtered by keyword, publication date, and full text, to pinpoint specific articles and records without reframing the original query.


EBSCO has provided links to both a Flash animation demonstrating the use of Visual Search and a tutorial that guides the user through the process.






Visual Search is offered to all EBSCO database subscribers at no additional cost, and both EBSCO and Groxis will work together to deliver ongoing enhancements to the visual search experience on EBSCOhost.


With nearly 200 research databases in fields as varied as business, medicine, religion, and international security and counterterrorism, EBSCO becomes the first major content aggregator to implement visualization technology into the aggregated database search experience. EBSCO Publishing is part of the EBSCO Information Services group, which provides libraries and research centers with online and print journal subscription services, e-resource access and management services, full-text and secondary database development and access, an open URL-compliant link resolver, online book purchasing, and related information services.


For more information, visit


Groxis is the creator of the patented Graphical Information Interface. Groxis develops and markets Grokker, a Web-based enterprise search management platform based on the Graphical Information Interface that ties together library catalogs, corporate databases, subscription content, and search engines in a visual user interface that yields increased productivity through more efficient research and collaboration.


For more information, please visit



Online Media Technologies Ltd, a member of the Blu-ray Disc Association, has announced the release of AVS Disc Creator 2.1 freeware, the first and only free CD/DVD/Bdcompliant burning software. AVS Disc Creator 2.1 freeware now supports Blu-ray disc media (BD-R, BDRE) burning.


AVS Disc Creator 2.1 supports an extended list of disc types (CDR/RW, DVD+/-R, DVD+/-RW, DVD-RAM, DVD+/R, and Double/Dual Layer) and has been upgraded to improve overall simplicity. Users are able to back up data onto highcapacity, 25- to 50-GB Blu-ray discs that offer considerable savings on storage and seek to enhance the protection of important data.


The latest version of AVS Disc Creator also introduces broader burning capabilities packaged in the same simple interface. Users can automate their everyday burning routine by saving their compilations as projects or they can take advantage of a multisession feature that makes it easily manageable to burn multiple backups on one disc, import a new session, add or delete new files and folders from the existing burning session, or edit the disc irrespective of the software originally used to author the disc. A specifically designed program engine allows data to be burned to a disc at the highest speed possible.


AVS Disc Creator 2.1 is the first freeware with complete CD/DVD/BD support for multimedia applications. It runs under Windows 2000/XP/2003 and is available in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. AVS Disc Creator 2.1 is distributed completely free of charge and has no trial periods, limitations, Adware, or Spyware. The software is available for download from the company's Web site at


Founded in 2004, Online Media Technologies Ltd is an IT company specializing in developing video and audio solutions for end users. For more information on the company and their products, please visit


The Blu-ray Disc Association is a worldwide organization responsible for establishing DVD format standards and currently has more than 150 members, including Apple, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi, HP, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK, and Thomson.



An IBM supercomputer named Juelich Blue Gene, or JUBL, is capable of computing an output of 46 trillion floating point operations per second (teraFLOPS) and has taken its place as the fastest supercomputer in Europe.


Based at the John von Neumann Research Center in Juelich, Germany, the new technology is considered as key to fundamental insights in biology, chemistry, physics, and climatic research. For material scientists, nanotechnologists, and energy researchers, Blue Gene will open windows to completely new applications.


New architecture obtains its unique arithmetic performance through the parallel enterprise of 16 384 power-saving processors, which allows the highest computer performance in the smallest area with modest energy consumption. The Institute wishes to achieve a thousand trillion floating point operations per second (1 petaFLOPS) in the next 3 years, with the goal of solving the Grand Challenges of scientific and engineering computing.


The John von Neumann Institute already houses JUMP, an existing supercomputer, and because future applications will rely on JUBL for the highest computing requirements, users will now have more opportunity to use JUMP for data-intensive problems. The Institute is developing a grid system through which users in Europe can gain access to the computer complex to achieve optimal integration with German universities and research institutes.


Simulations with supercomputers have become the third support pillar of research, apart from theory and experiment, and are indispensable for research and development, especially for interdisciplinary questions. JUBL opens a new dimension in computing for physics, material research, and nanotechnology. In addition, life sciences, particularly biology, medicine, and environmental research, such as the analysis of pollutant propagation in soil and the atmosphere, are the main areas of research for the Juelich computers. More than 200 European groups of researchers use the computer capacity in the Research Center Juelich.


The John von Neumann Institute for Computing (NIC) in the Research Center Juelich operates major items of equipment for supercomputing at the limit of the technically possible. It makes available supercomputer capacity for science and research as well as for industry and service areas in Germany and across Europe. With approximately 4300 employees, the Research Center Juelich is the largest multidisciplinary research center in Europe. Its topics reflect the great challenges of society: the supply of energy, protection of the environment, information handling, and the maintenance of health. Its scientists work in the disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, and engineering sciences. Long-term, basic-oriented, and interdisciplinary contributions to natural sciences and technology are likewise compiled, as well as tangible technological applications for the industry.



BDI-Laguna, a consumer electronics and computer products retail supplier, and Hitec Robotics, a division of Hitec RCD Inc, a manufacturer of hobby electronics, have announced the availability of Robonova-1, a Robo One "J" class humanoid robot, for nationwide retail.


Robonova-1 is a humanoid robot that offers educators, students, and robotic hobbyists a complete robot package, including programming software, for $999. The ROBONOVA-1 can walk, run, do flips and cartwheels, and dance and, once programmed, is ready to compete in any Robo One Class "J" competition.


The product will be available through BDI-Laguna in two ways: as a kit, so users can enjoy building it themselves, or as a preassembled, ready-to-walk instant gratification robot.


More information is available at



A new interactive, animated software program aimed at improving the informed consent process has gotten high marks from users in its first trial at a private medical practice in Michigan.


ADVOCA software allows patients to learn about their upcoming medical and surgical procedures by viewing an animated program that provides current medical information and checks their comprehension with interactive questions. The software was developed by Grand Rapids-based INFORMD, with assistance from the West Michigan Science and Technology Initiative (WMSTI) at Grand Valley State University.


Test results are printed for the physician to personalize discussions and plans with each patient. This system streamlines the informed consent process, may reduce liability, and significantly increases the quality of patient care; 87% of patients preferred the system over traditional informed consent paperwork.


With the support of the WMSTI, INFORMD uses a combination of technologies to bridge patient education, communication, and the increasingly complex legal and administrative challenges facing healthcare providers and insurance companies. WMSTI provides facilities for product development, access to clinicians, and university resources and assists with introductions to investors.


The WMSTI is a life sciences business incubator and research center dedicated to growing and diversifying the region's economy by creating an environment that inspires innovation and supports the commercialization of science and technology. WMSTI provides commercialization and new business development services to establish a seamless collaborative network of researchers, entrepreneurs, business service providers, and capital.


WMSTI is 1 of 11 SmartZones created by the Michigan Economic Development Corp in 2001 as part of an effort to promote and attract high-technology business development in the state. Grand Valley was the only university in the state to be granted two SmartZones: one in Grand Rapids and one in Muskegon.


For more information, visit the Grand Valley State University Web site,, or contact Patricia Mathews at (616) 638-8553.