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Leading SMEs team up with Aston to develop ground-breaking technology.  

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“We need the 'Babelfish' for health information across the health and care systems for patient information and records to be shared” 'Digitising the NHS by 2018 - Intellect response' Intellect 2013

Aston University has entered in to a ‘game-changing’ partnership with a leading software technology company, Folding Space, and a records management company, MISL Document Management on a two year £500,000 Innovate UK funded collaborative Research and Development project. 

This project will significantly develop the market-leading records & document management technology, owned by Folding Space and used by MISL, and will initially focus on the healthcare sector but will also have applications in the legal, professional and insurance industries.

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, stated in January 2013 that the NHS should aim to become paperless by 2018. As a consequence large numbers of medical records have been scanned generating enormous amounts of unstructured data. Whilst it is acknowledged that this data could significantly improve efficiency and reduce clinical risk, the only current method of adding structure to this data is via manual intervention. There is a significant need within the healthcare, and other professional sectors, for a new, cost effective way of presenting this data to professional users, and for there to be better access to the information hidden in this data across the medical and social care divide so that, for example, early warning signs for children at risk can be identified.

The project will combine MISL’s specialism in the digitisation of challenging documentation, Folding Space’s capability in managing & representing scanned records in an intuitive way, and Aston University’s expertise in advanced machine learning, statistical modelling and the emerging technology of ‘content analytics’, which analyses unstructured data using semantic technologies to identify causes behind certain trends. This will provide a complete solution to the challenge that vast quantities of paper and digital content presents. 

This project has the potential to transform the practices of industries that are central to the UK economy, and it will allow us to further develop our world leading software with more cutting edge features' 


Specifically this project aims to develop a toolset that will provide structure to this data thus enabling more effective information discovery and decision making from large document repositories, at a fraction of the cost of manual intervention. The toolset created will also look to address handwritten notes, which cannot currently be identified and collated without significant manual effort resulting in professionals being over dependent on the clients’ memory heightening the possibility of clinical risk in a healthcare setting or negligence. The concept of distinguishing between handwritten and printed text has never been explored before and will be a significant innovation.

Geoffrey Smith, Co-Founder of Folding Space, explained that “This project has the potential to transform the practices of industries that are central to the UK economy, and it will allow us to further develop our world leading software with more cutting edge features.”

Dr Yulan He, Lead Academic for the project, stated that “We are thrilled to be working on this project with Folding Space and MISL, and to apply our research in the new concept of content analytics which will position ourselves as a world leader in this area.”

To find out more about how your business can benefit from working with Aston University, please email rke@aston.ac.uk or call 0121 204 4242.