Hide menu

Erik Sundvalls Research Page

Research timline Nov 2011

Research timeline presented Nov. 2011: online@Prezi or offline (25 MB)


Contact info

Telephone, mail, office location etc available at: http://www.imt.liu.se/staff/
If you want to get updated of the research progress (publications etc.), just send me a mail marked [research updates] in the subject line and you'll be informed (at most a couple times a year).

Summary of PhD project:
Overview and Navigation of Electronic Health Records

How can patient information in an electronic health record (EHR) be displayed best in order to gain a quick overview of a patient's history and other important facts? The thesis aims to explore different facets of this question. Requirements vary depending on the user's role and current task, the overview should adjust accordingly.

The need for more structured, computer interpretable and semantically well defined EHR content has this far to a great deal been driven by the desire to use decision support systems and reuse data for follow up purposes. The thesis will also use this improved structure to enhance overview, presentation and navigation of the EHR using various visualization techniques. A hypothesis is that automated reasoning may also be used to better filter/summarize available information before presentation.

Terminology Visualization

The structure of the information in an EHR, and the possibilities to aggregate data for statistical purposes are dependent on data models, terminologies etc. used. Good overview and navigation of those is a related important task that is also explored in the thesis. The first scientific paper thus presented a prototype (TermViz) applying well known methods like "focus+context" and self-organizing layouts from the fields of Information Visualization and Graph Drawing to terminologies like SNOMED CT and ICD-10. The aim was to simultaneously focus on several nodes in the terminologies and then use interactive animated graph navigation and semantic zooming to further explore the terminology systems without loosing context. The prototype, based on Open Source Java components, demonstrated how a number of information visualization methods can aid the exploration of medical terminologies with millions of elements and can serve as a base for further development. Status update: Web/Flash/Flex-based TermViz 2.0 under development, alpha version available.

openEHR & Archetypes

In order to have "semantically well defined EHR content" (needed for advanced EHR overviews) we need a formalized EHR structure and well defined connections to terminology systems etc. Thus I am active in our department's investigation of the archetype/openEHR-approach to EHRs (see http://www.imt.liu.se/mi/ehr/). The second paper describes an Archetype Editor developed by our department that was combined with TermViz and a system for finding terminology bindings to SNOMED CT. 

EHR Visualization

Display of interactive graphical "timelines" showing patient history is an obvious and important part of a patient overview. Work along these lines has already been conducted by others (e.g. the LifeLines project) and is being further explored and expanded in papers and software. Our third paper, entitled Graphical Overview and Navigation of Electronic Health Records in a prototyping environment using Google Earth and openEHR Archetypes, introduces some possible interaction and visualisation techniques suitable for EHR overviews. Evaluation and enhancement of this is one of the current research activities.

The use of graphic languages (pictograms etc.) for quick information overview is another thing expected to be further explored in the thesis.

Reducing redundancy in the EHR?

Finding ways of overviewing and navigating existing EHR content is a main task in the thesis, and an interesting question to discuss in relation to this is the possibility of reducing the amount of redundant information often found in EHRs. Can suitable EHR information structures and user interfaces make it easier to find and refer to already entered information instead of re-entering it? How can patient-specific goals, plans and processes be represented and visualised, and will that be useful for overview purposes and reduced redundancy? Questions like these are likely to be touched upon in the thesis too.

The continued exploration and research depends on what can be concluded by the initial findings.

A PhD thesis at our department is expected to be completed within approximately five years (four years PhD work plus 20% teaching etc). My thesis work begun in August 2004 and will be extended due to parental leaves and department work in projects that are not part of my research.

Supervisors: Håkan Örman (formerly Petersson), late Prof. Hans Åhlfeldt (until the summer 2010), Prof. Magnus Borga (from fall 2010)

Published/available work

The list below is not always up to date, so have a look at other places like my Google Scholar list and also try searching for "Erik Sundvall" or "erisu87" in the LiU publication database.

Publications co-authored

  • Data Needs for Patient Overviews: A Literature Review Compared with SNOMED CT and openEHR; Nyström M, Sundvall E, Örman H. Submitted to MIE 2011
  • Archetype-based conversion of EHR content models: pilot experience with a regional EHR system
    BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2009, 9:33 (1 July 2009)
    Chen R, Klein GO, Sundvall E, Karlsson D, Åhlfeldt H
  • Systematizing medical alerts
    Mattias Petterson, Jenny Wihlborg, Rikard Lövström, Erik Sundvall, Mikael Nyström, Daniel Karlsson
  • Requirements and prototyping of a home health care application based on emerging JAVA technology.
    International Journal of Medical Informatics 68 (2002) 129-139;
    Leili Lind, Erik Sundvall, Daniel Karlsson, Nosrat Shahsavar, Hans Åhlfeldt.
  • Experiences from Development of Home Health Care Applications based on Emerging Java Technology;
    Proceedings of MEDINFO 2001; September, 2001; L. Lind, E. Sundvall, H. Åhlfeldt

Selected other presentations

  • "Introduktion till Snomed CT" vid "Seminarium om gemensamt fackspråk för vård och omsorg i morgondagens informationssystem" på Scandic Star i Lund 9 - 10 april 2008. Arrangerat av Socialstyrelsen m.fl.(in Swedish) Uppdatering: Videoinspelning av föredraget finns nu tillgänglig.


Current work

  • TermViz, terminology visualization prototype developed, also included in an Archetype Editor. A new web accessible version is underway.
  • EHR Overviews, see Medinfo 2007 paper above.
  • Exploration of openEHR and the archetype approach, see http://www.imt.liu.se/mi/ehr
  • Universitetets "Tredje uppgift", samverkansuppgiften; Kontakter med hälso- & sjukvårdsorganisationer nationellt (termkonferenser, SFMI-arrangemang), företag m.m. Se seminarer etc: http://www.imt.liu.se/mi/ehr

Past work while at IMT, LiU

Past work, network, CV etc


I have been involved in the teaching of the courses:

I am and have been supervising some master thesis projects:
  • Java-based archetype editor, by Johan Hjalmarsson & Mattias Forss; LiTH-IMT/MI20-EX--06/423--SE (2006).
  • EHR-portal for patients (web & archetype based), by Joakim Fredriksson & Jonas Andersson; LiTH-IMT/MI20-EX--06/425--SE (2006).
  • Användbarhetsutvärdering av en grafiskt visualiserad patientjournal (Usability evaluation of a graphically visualized medical record), by Henrik Särnbrink &
    Klas Johansson, LiU-ITN-TEK-G--08/032--SE (2008)
  • Visualizations of medical data – emphasis on use and potential of medical alerts, by Jenny Wihlborg & Mattias Pettersson [LiU-IMT/MI20-EX--07/457--SE (2008) Printed. Awaiting electronic publication link.]
  • Archetype based EHR GUI Generation, by Carl Magnus Alfon [currently running or paused?]
  • Clinical Decision Support Rules in an Archetype-Based Health Record System
    Combining Archetype Query Language (AQL) and Semantic Web Rule Language (SWRL)
    , by Hanna Karlsson & Herman Viklund LiTH-IMT/MI30-A-EX--09/477--SE (2009)
  • Development of an API for creating and editing openEHR archetypes, by Filip Klasson & Patrik Väyrynen; LiTH-IMT/MI30-A-EX--09/472--SE (2009)
  • Pedagogisk experimentmiljö för informationsmodeller i openEHR (Pedagogical experimental environment fo openEHR information models), by Dominique Siivonen [currently running] (2010-2011)
Public tutorials etc.


Page responsible: Webmaster
Last updated: 2013-01-23