Semantic interoperability in healthcare. State of the art in the US. A position paper with background materials

In European Union ARGOS Project: Transatlantic Observatory for Meeting Global Health Policy Challenges through ICT-Enabled Solution (2010)
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Abstract
Semantic interoperability can be defined as the ability of two or more computer systems to exchange information in such a way that the meaning of that information can be automatically interpreted by the receiving system accurately enough to produce useful results to the end users of both systems. Several activities are currently being performed by a variety of stakeholders to achieve semantic interoperability in healthcare. Many of these activities are not beneficial, because they place too great a focus on business aspects and not enough on involvement of the right sorts of researchers, in particular those that are able to see how the data and information relate to the entities of concern on the side of the patient. The lack of a central focus on the patient, and the associated focus on ‘concepts’, have spawned a variety of mutually incompatible terminologies exhibiting non-resolvable overlap. The predominance of the healthcare IT industry in the writing and selection of semantic interoperability standards mitigates against the benefits that standards, when well designed, can bring about.
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