The Edinburgh group carries out basic and applied research in the formal foundations for intelligent systems in healthcare delivery.

Edinburgh People:

David GlasspoolDavid Glasspool

Adela GrandoAdela Grando

Paolo BesanaPaolo Besana

Dave RobertsonDave Robertson


“The application of what is known already will have a greater impact on health and disease than any single drug or technology likely to be introduced in the next decade”.
Sir Muir Gray, Director of Clinical Knowledge, Process and Safety at NHS Connecting for Health

“Perhaps 16,000 lives could be saved if all current knowledge of cancer were properly applied”
("Our vision for cancer"- ICRF, 1995)

Most of the large and growing quantity of information available in healthcare systems today - knowledge in the medical literature, data captured about each patient, information passed around in informal discussions - is not used by clinical, nursing and other staff, nor by patients, in their day-to-day decision-making. the sheer scale of the information deluge, the diversity and rigidity of systems, and an inability to extract the knowledge needed to support specific decisions inhibit the use of information. Healthcare systems require better ways of marshalling, integrating, and interpreting data.

Clinical computing systems are increasingly seen as the most effective way to improve treatment and outcome in major diseases like cancer.

To integrate the vast pool of existing information relevant to the care of any specific patient and deliver it in an effective and co-ordinated manner at the point of care requires computer systems that go much further than the "alerts and reminders" which represent the state of the art in commercially available clinical decision support. Computer systems need to understand and integrate with the process of clinical care, not just individual clinical decisions. Computer systems are needed that have an overview of the whole range of treatment that is underway for a particular patient, not just the activities of a single clinician. And computer systems must be able to adapt flexibly to rapidly changing circumstances, just as clinicans do every day.

The Edinburgh group currently focusses on two main areas of work that directly address these issues:

Process: Formal representation and analysis of clinical processes.

Flexibility: Intelligent execution of plans, processes and guidelines in an adaptive and reactive manner.

Edinburgh Projects:

Formal analysis and modelling of workflow

Flexibility in plan representation and execution

Distributed process representation and execution

  • Distributing clinical process execution across peer-to-peer networks.
    (Personnel: Besana; Glasspool)

The Polyphony project
(Personnel: Glasspool)

  • Further development of REACT, an application for supporting plan visualisation, understanding, generation and manipulation.
  • The Polyphony project, a generalisation of the REACT system to multiple users, multiple plans, multiple morbidities and multiple sites.

Projects with Edinburgh involvement:

Safe and Sound: Ensuring that widely distributed knowledge of "best clinical practice" and relevant patient data is available, integrated and focused in a timely, correct, safe and accessible way at the point of care for a patient. A project under the
EPSRC "Exploration Studies for Grand Challenges within the Information-Driven Health Initiative"
scheme, in collaboration with Oxford University Department of Engineering Science and the Centre for Patient Safety & Service Quality at Imperial College London.

Cogent: A graphical environment for cognitive modelling. COGENT is a flexible computational modelling system within which to develop and explore symbolic and hybrid models of cognitive processes. Work led by Birkbeck, University of London.