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Success story: Fighting cancer with semantic PACS

July 19 2018

ttopstart has followed up on an innovative project that ranked an impressive #1 out of 600 project proposals for Eurostars in 2013, to hear how the project developed.

Back in 2013 we first had the pleasure of working with SOHARD, a German medical technology company and MAASTRO, a Dutch clinic specialized in radio therapy, on an innovative project called SeDI where Semantic Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) can be used in clinical practice and eventually help in the battle against cancer. We caught up with Peter Feltens, Project Coordinator of SeDI and managing director at SOHARD, and asked him about the project experience.  

Where did the idea behind SeDI come from?  

SOHARD were already specialised in medical devices and wanted to develop their own software product, so they decided to develop a prototype for making semantic searches for medical images, like MRI scans and X-rays, and then uploaded the software to their website. This was spotted by medical physicist Andre Dekker at the MAASTRO Clinic in Maastricht, who then tested the software and saw the great potential within clinical data systems across hospitals and countries. This was the beginning of the cooperation between the two partners, who used their respective expertise to develop a product, that could innovate healthcare.  

The cooperation between the two partners shows why it is particularly beneficial to have interdisciplinary consortiums, bringing together different areas of expertise for an optimal outcome. As Peter Feltens puts it:   

“The cooperation with MAASTRO clinic was very fruitful, because they added the clinical expertise, which we didn’t have at SOHARD at the time” – Peter Feltens: Project Coordinator of SeDI and managing director at SOHARD 

How can SeDI make a difference for patients?  

SeDI is a new tool that can help doctors and researchers in their battle against cancer. It uses Semantic Web approaches for carrying out better searches, making it easy to search through thousands of medical images on their PACS. Conventional PACS are not designed to search for clinical data that can be used in clinics and hospitals, but with SeDI, doctors can create very specific search requests, using PACS to consult comparable cases when making a diagnosis. This can help ensure that the patient receives a more personalized diagnosis and treatment. The technology is especially beneficially for radio therapy – generally used for cancer treatment, which is what the MAASTRO clinic is specialised in. Using SeDI, not only makes it possible to search on diagnostics data, but also makes it possible to do searches on therapy data such as plans, structures and doses in the field of radio therapy. 

See below, an illustration of how SeDI works: 

Figure 1: www.semantic-diocom.com/starting-page/ 

 

What helped make the project become a success? 

When the project was in the development phase, SOHARD especially focused on the performance of the system, because they wanted to ensure a fast system, with a fast database and optimization of the search. This have meant that today their system is known as being significantly more efficient than traditional PACS systems.  

 Of course, creating the right business plan and securing sufficient funding for the project was also a factor:  

“ttopstart supported us in designing and writing a grant proposal, which was ranked #1 of 600 proposals for Eurostars, and which eventually secured us funding for the project.” - Peter Feltens: Project Coordinator of SeDI and managing director at SOHARD 

What has happened with project SeDI, and what’s next?  

Already in 2016 SeDI got the first new customer; a Dutch clinic that have integrated SeDI and is using it very successfully today. SeDI has also received a lot of positive attention, and is for example featured on Eurostars website as one of their success stories. 

SeDI was SOHARD’s first project in cooperation with MAASTRO clinic and with support from ttopstart – since then, SOHARD has developed several successful projects together with MAASTRO, and supported by ttopstart. Currently, they are working on a project, which focuses on patient participation in cancer therapy, and are continuously working on innovating the world of healthcare.  

 

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