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Application: Medicine and Health

Medicine generates enormous volumes of data in the form of images and patient data. However, medical information held by different authorities, although broadly similar, is sufficiently different so that it cannot simply be aggregated or analysed using a single tool. Benefits and also the challenges are multiplied many-fold when seeking to analyse data on an international basis. This is not only because of size, but also because IT tools rather than policy instruments are essential as they are the only way in which the data will be systematised to allow "publication" in a common form. Grid is the key tool that can tap into the enormous value of these databases.

ReproGrid is a particular example of a Grid application in medicine. This links national registries to generate for the first time ever the opportunity to look at these comprehensive data sets on an aggregated basis. This will massively increase the effectiveness of strategies for one of the most important issues faced today - fertility.

The developed and developing worlds face different problems and ReproGrid focuses on the former in the first instance because of the higher data integrity. Birth-rates are declining; there are significant trends for women to delay childbirth, and increasingly finding that they are no longer as fertile. IVF cycles are increasing substantially-and this is an expensive procedure in which evidence is accumulating all the time about the most effective way to provide patients with the outcomes they desire. Only through a Grid-based approach will the high quality but heterogeneous data being generated by national registries be able to be mined most effectively to inform service development.

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Last updated 24 January 2005.