AN INTELLIGENT INTERACTIVE SYSTEM FOR DELIVERING INDIVIDUALIZED INFORMATION TO PATIENTS

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This paper is a report on the first phase of a long-term, interdisciplinary project whose goal is to increase the overall effectiveness of physicians’ time, and thus the quality of health care, by improving the information exchange between physicians and patients in clinical settings. We are focusing on patients with long-term and chronic conditions, initially on migraine patients, who require periodic interaction with their physicians for effective management of their condition. We are using medical informatics to focus on the information needs of patients, as well as of physicians, and to address problems of information exchange. This requires understanding patients’ concerns to design an appropriate system, and using state-of-the-art artificial intelligence techniques to build an interactive explanation system. In contrast to many other knowledge-based systems, our system’s design is based on empirical data on actual information needs. We used ethnographic techniques to observe explanations actually given in clinic settings, and to conduct interviews with migraine sufferers and physicians. Our system has an extensive knowledge base that contains both general medical terminology and specific knowledge about migraine, such as common trigger factors and symptoms of migraine, the common therapies, and the most common effects and side effects of those therapies. The system consists of two main components: (a) an interactive history-taking module that collects information from patients prior to each visit, builds a patient model, and summarizes the patients’ status for their physicians; and (b) an intelligent explanation module that produces an interactive information sheet containing explanations in everyday language that are tailored to individual patients, and responds intelligently to follow-up questions about topics covered in the information sheet.