gms | German Medical Science

50. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (gmds)
12. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Epidemiologie (dae)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie
Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Epidemiologie

12. bis 15.09.2005, Freiburg im Breisgau

The HELICS Database Management Software project: electronic exchange of nosocomial infection surveillance data across Europe

Meeting Abstract

  • Michael Behnke - Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin
  • Karl Mertens - Scientific Institute Public Health, Brüssel
  • Ian Russel - Université Claude Bernard, Lyon
  • Carl Suetens - Scientific Institute Public Health, Brüssel

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie. Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Epidemiologie. 50. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (gmds), 12. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Epidemiologie. Freiburg im Breisgau, 12.-15.09.2005. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2005. Doc05gmds294

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: September 8, 2005

© 2005 Behnke et al.
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As defined in the HELICS Database Management Software (HDBMS) project, software was developed to enable input, analysis and export of Nosocomial Infection (NI) surveillance data at the hospital level and to collect, validate and prepare data at National Coordinating Centers (NCC), the HELICS Coordinating Center (HCC) and the Collaborating Centers (COCs).


Following the HELICS data-flow organization and data specification rules contained in the Operating Manual and the ICU and SSI protocols, development relied on a joint effort of the HCC and COCs in Lyon, Brussels and Berlin. Development using available IT-resources within COCs will also facilitate helpdesking for NCCs and future updates.


In support of hospitals participating in HELICS surveillance, the HELICSwin software was developed. This Microsoft Access-based application enables manual input of data of surveillance of ICU-acquired infections and surgical site infections, as well as analysis and export of data for send-up to the NCC. A separate module supports the automatic import of surveillance data from Microsoft Excel format into HELICSwin.

In support of NCCs organizing HELICS surveillance, dedicated STATA-tools were created which enable processing of incoming HELICSwin export data, the validation and analysis of this data as well as preparation for send-up to the HCC in Lyon.

In addition, the HELICSval software enables NCCs and the HCC to control, validate and prepare HELICS data. This Microsoft .NET based application processes NCC data in ASCII format to validate - giving detailed feedback if these do not conform data to specifications – and convert these to the XML-format (Extensible Markup Language) for send-up to the HCC.

HELICSval also allows the HCC to append incoming XML data into a Microsoft SQL Server Relational database, which was set up for collected HELICS data to be stored in a secured and authorized manner, thus constituting the European database of NI surveillance data. Furthermore, to guarantee data confidentiality and authenticity, the HELICS Data Exchange Specification was set up, describing the procedure of data flow between the NCC and HCC as well as between the HCC and the COC. The gnuPG application was chosen for encryption and signature of data files to be exchanged.


In guaranteeing HELICS data input, validation, analysis and exchange at the hospital, network and European level, the HDBMS will contribute considerably to achieving the objectives of the HELICS project.