Rita Noumeir: Biomedical Engineering Furthers Diagnosis

The Electronic Health Record offers incredible opportunities in terms of the wealth of health data that it contains. It does, however, present a challenge: transmission of its medical images, whose quality must enable a specialist to read the data correctly. Biomedical Engineering Professor Rita Noumeir works on software applications in the field of electronic health.

The Electronic Health Record: A Gold Mine of Information

Medical images in an Electronic Health Record (EHR) enable medical staff to monitor, diagnose and treat patients in traumatic situations, as well as patients in isolated areas. Specialist physicians also need them to prepare for their interventions.

Technological advances in videos as well as lower hardware costs over the past few years are a tremendous opportunity for the medical world. PET, MRI, scans, X-rays and echograms… doctors now have access to in-depth information, in 3D. However, there is one major issue – how to transmit these images which contain large amounts of raw data.

RGB-D Images and Data Transfer: A New Field of Research

Professor Noumeir’s specialty is developing new compression methods for medical images to ensure they can be transmitted without loss of diagnostic quality. As each type of medical image requires a different compression technique, the challenge is considerable.

Here’s one sample application: When a medical emergency occurs aboard an airplane and there is no doctor on board, transmitting health data can help a healthcare team on the ground to monitor the patient and the evolution of the situation and prepare for the patient’s arrival at the hospital. However, health professionals must be able to consult all the data in the EHR without difficulty. Professor Noumeir devotes her research to this issue of image compression.

Activity Detection

Her expertise is also sought after in other fields, such as activity detection. This involves developing algorithms that allow for the detection of “noteworthy events” in certain individuals and for response in the event of an emergency.

This technology will also be useful in medicine, in applications such as detecting respiratory distress, through RGB-D images. Processing medical image sequences is still in its infancy, but holds much promise!