MIE 2002 is the XVIIth international conference of the European Federation of Medical Informatics. The conference is held twice in every three years since 1978. MIE 2002 is the first MIE conference of the 21stcentury and of the third millennium. Today, mankind builds up the information society, enabled by the underlying rapid development in computer technology. The significance of the spread of the internet is comparable to the significance of Gutenberg’s invention. On one hand both of them help dissemination of data and knowledge and sharing of ideas. On the other hand the achievements may divide the society, as did non-literacy deprive many people from knowledge throughout centuries. Today millions of people are isolated from an incredibly large amount of information because of “computer non-literacy”, and a new elite mastering the information society has appeared. However, the ease of production and dissemination of information may foster thoughtless communication, and has lead to a flood of information and disinformation. We have to learn how to behave in this new situation, in which the dissemination of information – at an international level – is totally uncontrolled.
In the area of medical or health informatics these questions are more serious. Lack of information, false or inadequate information, as well as improper interpretation of accurate information may seriously harm patients. And the process may go out of the control of the physician, i.e. patients can “treat” themselves just by visiting some health sites on the net. Everybody may throw a message in a bottle in information flood, and everybody may pick up messages at any time. Can we do anything to ensure that all messages are valid? Can we guarantee that our messages reach the intended audience? Can we secure that content has not changed on its way? Do we know that people getting our messages will interpret them correctly? Are we able to understand the intention of a sender, when we get a message totally out of context? These questions build up the framework of MIE2002. The papers are organised into six chapters. The first chapter (“Open the bottle”) deals with the acquisition of information. The second (“Forward the bottle”) focuses on communication and security. The third chapter concentrates on data storage and retrieval (“Keep the bottle”). The fourth chapter collects papers about understanding of messages: data analysis, natural language processing, etc. The fifth chapter concentrates on the ultimate reason of obtaining information in health care: we have to solve problems. Finally the sixth chapter draws our attention to the context: the broader environment, in which we interpret information.
We express our special thanks to all who contributed to this Proceedings; first to the authors of the papers, then to the reviewers and the members of the Scientific Program Committee, and to Gabor P´lvölgyi for the technical editing.