Ontology-based integration of medical coding systems and electronic patient records

IFOMIS Reports (2004)
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Abstract

In the last two decades we have witnessed considerable efforts directed towards making electronic healthcare records comparable and interoperable through advances in record architectures and (bio)medical terminologies and coding systems. Deep semantic issues in general, and ontology in particular, have received some interest from the research communities. However, with the exception of work on so-called ‘controlled vocabularies’, ontology has thus far played little role in work on standardization. The prime focus has been rather the rapid population of terminologies at the level of fine detail. In this paper, we argue that more efforts are needed on the side of both research and standardization to ensure that the coding systems used in electronic healthcare records enjoy a semantics that is coherent with the semantics of the record. We propose realist ontology as a method to bring about this coherence by means of a robust system of top-level ontological categories.

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Barry Smith
University at Buffalo

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