Monitoring heterogeneous medical devices is a key issue for efficient medical information management in highquality health care delivery. Collecting vital signs and integrating data from various sources is very important in order to make precise diagnosis and provide effective emergency response. Current commercial rules and the scarce adoption of standard protocols are the first main obstacle to achieve a real integration. We propose a work-in-progress, role-based, agentoriented solution to overcome this obstacle: proper mobile agents are in charge of acquiring data from each kind of medical device (e.g., electrocardiograms, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation gauges), providing a uniform interface toward the business logic; in its turn, each medical device is provided by a vendor-specific role, embodying the capability to interface with the device by means of its own protocol. Thus, each time a new medical device requires the integration in a wider system, a generic mobile agent migrates to the device node; here, it assumes the role of the specific device manufacturer and starts delivering the acquired data hiding the heterogeneity of the device. We will propose such a solution describing the implementation of a demonstrative prototype exploiting the RoleSystem infrastructure, which dynamically makes role capabilities available to the agents.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Device Integration: The connection of various devices in order to allow them to communicate, interact, and interoperate. The main issue to face to achieve integration is the heterogeneity of communication protocols and data formats
JADE: The most known and used agent platform. The framework, implemented in Java, provides many facilities to support the management of agent life-cycle and to develop distributed multi-agent systems.
E-Health: The management of health-related issues by means of information and communication technology, exploited to improve quality and efficiency of health care services and facilitate caregivers in their work.
Medical Device: A device able to detect and measure some kind of patient vital signs. The electronic devices usually provide outputs in their own format, based on the proprietary protocols and technical details implemented by the vendor, resulting in wide data heterogeneity and hard interoperability issues.
Role-Enabled Device: A device equipped with a special role, which encloses its own communication details and is able to interact with the other agents of the platform by means of a standard interface. The role, possibly provided by the device manufacturer, acts like a sort of middleware stub to connect the device to the agent platform.
Agent: A computational unit able to solve a problem and execute in open and dynamic contexts, thanks to the properties of reactivity, autonomy, proactivity, and sociality. The agents can run in a special agent platform such as JADE.
Role: A set of capabilities and expected behaviors related to the agent that plays such a role. The agent playing a role gets new functionalities and abilities to interact with the roles of the other agents.