Coalesce on a Reference Ontology for Medical Records
Computer-based Patient Record development has been, and continues to be, impeded by the lack of standards for the content and format of Computer-based Patient Record data. To exploit the potential benefits of linking CPR's across specialties and institutions, developers must ensure the following: (1) The content of CPRs must be defined; that is, each CPR should contain a uniform core set of data elements. (2) Data elements must be named consistently; that is, some form of vocabulary control must be in place. (3) Format standards for data exchange must be developed and used</blockquote>
- The Computer-based Patient Record: An Essential Technology for Health Care - Institute of Medicine, 1997
The biggest impediment to arriving at consensus on the use of Semantic Web-based terminology to describe content extracted or abstracted from a patient record is the enormity of the domain of medicine. This is manifested in the size of the more comprehensive medical record ontologies such as Open GALEN and SNOMED-CT.
However, there still an untapped opportunity in approaching the problem by trying to identify the core, common archetypes that are pervasive. Below is a diagram demonstrating some examples of such archetypal concepts. A project that attempts to identify an appropriate methodology for identifying these archetypes, enumerate these terms, and demonstrates their coverage of existing medical record ontologies would be a very valuable exercise in demonstrating the role that Semantic Web technologies can play in addressing this critical (and long outstanding) problem.