Terminology Services: Standard Terminologies to Control Health VocabularyExperience at the Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires
22 April 2018 (eFirst)
Healthcare Information Systems should capture clinical data in a structured and preferably coded format. This is crucial for data exchange between health information systems, epidemiological analysis, quality and research, clinical decision support systems, administrative functions, among others. Structured data entry is an obstacle for the usability of electronic health record (EHR) applications and their acceptance by physicians who prefer to document patient EHRs using “free text”. Natural language allows for rich expressiveness but at the same time is ambiguous; it has great dependence on context and uses jargon and acronyms. Although much progress has been made in knowledge and natural language processing techniques, the result is not yet satisfactory enough for the use of free text in all dimensions of clinical documentation. In order to address the trade-off between capturing data with free text and at the same time coding data for computer processing, numerous terminological systems for the systematic recording of clinical data have been developed. The purpose of terminology services consists of representing facts that happen in the real world through database management in order to allow for semantic interoperability and computerized applications. These systems interrelate concepts of a particular domain and provide references to related terms with standards codes. In this way, standard terminologies allow the creation of a controlled medical vocabulary, making terminology services a fundamental component for health data management in the healthcare environment. The Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires has been working in the development of its own terminology server. This work describes its experience in the field.