Biomedical Terminologies and Ontologies: Enabling Biomedical Semantic Interoperability and Standards in Europe

In European Large-Scale Action on Electronic Health (2009)
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In the management of biomedical data, vocabularies such as ontologies and terminologies (O/Ts) are used for (i) domain knowledge representation and (ii) interoperability. The knowledge representation role supports the automated reasoning on, and analysis of, data annotated with O/Ts. At an interoperability level, the use of a communal vocabulary standard for a particular domain is essential for large data repositories and information management systems to communicate consistently with one other. Consequently, the interoperability benefit of selecting a particular O/T as a standard for data exchange purposes is often seen by the end-user as a function of the number of applications using that vocabulary (and, by extension, the size of the user base). Furthermore, the adoption of an O/T as an interoperability standard requires confidence in its stability and guaranteed continuity as a resource.
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