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ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research Realist Ontology for Electronic Health Records Dr. Werner Ceusters ECOR: European Centre for Ontological.

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Presentation on theme: "ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research Realist Ontology for Electronic Health Records Dr. Werner Ceusters ECOR: European Centre for Ontological."— Presentation transcript:

1 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research Realist Ontology for Electronic Health Records Dr. Werner Ceusters ECOR: European Centre for Ontological Research, Saarbrücken University RAMIT: Research in Advanced Medical Informatics and Telematics

2 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research Interoperability of electronic health records By end 2006, Member States, in collaboration with the European Commission, should identify and outline interoperability standards for health data messages and electronic health records, taking into account best practices and relevant standardisation efforts. Achieving a seamless exchange of health information across Europe requires common structures and ontologies of the information transferred between health information systems. e-Health - making healthcare better for European citizens: An action plan for a European e-Health Area COM (2004) 356 final, , p17

3 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research The O-word in science N. Guarino, P. Giaretta, "Ontologies and Knowledge Bases: Towards a Terminological Clarification". In Towards Very Large Knowledge Bases: Knowledge Building and Knowledge Sharing, N. Mars (ed.), pp IOS Press, Amsterdam, 1995.

4 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research The O-word in buzz-speak “An ontology is a classification methodology for formalizing a subject's knowledge or belief system in a structured way. Dictionaries and encyclopedias are examples of ontologies.” (X1) “A terminology (or classification) is a kind of ontology by definition and it should preserve (and "understand") the relationships between the 1,000s of terms in it or else it would become a mere dictionary (or at best a thesaurus).” (X2) “Ontologies are Web pages that contain a mystical unifying force that gives differing labels common meaning.” (X3)

5 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research “Ontology” An ontology defines the terms used to describe and represent an area of knowledge, and are used by people, databases, and applications that need to share domain information (a domain is a specific subject area, such as health or medicine). OWL Web Ontology Language; Use Cases and Requirements W3C Recommendation 10 February e-Health - making healthcare better for European citizens: An action plan for a European e-Health Area COM (2004) 356 final, , p17

6 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research “Ontology” Ontologies need to specify descriptions for the following kinds of concepts: – Classes (general things) in the many domains of interest – The relationships that can exist among things – The properties (or attributes) those things may have OWL Web Ontology Language; Use Cases and Requirements W3C Recommendation 10 February 2004

7 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research "Where there is the sound of a blow, there is respect” (Pashtun proverb) “I repeatedly get confused by the (in my opinion structurally confusing) terminology of those people (like Y) who try to do ontology but end up just studying concepts.” (X, pers. comm.)

8 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research Concepts come from terminology In Information Science: – “An ontology is a description (like a formal specification of a program) of the concepts and relationships that can exist for an agent or a community of agents.” In Philosophy: – “Ontology is the science of what is, of the kinds and structures of objects, properties, events, processes and relations in every area of reality.” concept termreferent

9 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research Realist ontology describes what is fundamental in the totality of what exists, defines the most general categories to which we need to refer in constructing a description of reality, tells us how these categories are related. is able to be used to describe reality at any point in time.

10 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research Understanding content (1) “John Doe has a pyogenic granuloma of the left thumb” We see:     The machine sees:

11 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research Understanding content (2) John Doe pyogenic granuloma of the left thumb The XML misunderstanding We see:    The machine sees:

12 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research CEN’s view on EHCR and reality Reality EHCR-architectureTerminology Statements John Doe

13 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research Patient sex male female Unknown ???

14 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research Amen !!! “Give folks a loose standard and the first thing many of them do is exploit its weaknesses for their personal gain.” NICHOLAS PETRELEY Computerworld “Give folks a loose standard and the first thing the clever ones do is exploit the ignorance of the others for their personal gain.” WERNER CEUSTERS (in a vicious mood)

15 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research XML OWL XML – Pure syntax – Simulated semantics OWL: – Very precise semantics – But is the semantics of the right sort to faithfully describe simple medical facts ?

16 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research NCIT’s “Lung” in OWL Lung C12468 primitive ... “All instances of lung must be located in at least one instance of thoracic cavity” Hence: total lung excision is impossible.

17 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research NCIT’s “Lung” in OWL Lung C12468 primitive ... “every assigned location of pleura must be an instance of the class Thoracic Cavity” Allows lungs not to be located at all.

18 ECO R European Centre for Ontological Research What is our message ? From “Good Characteristics of a EHCR” (Eurorec 1997, Paris) to “Good characteristics of an Ontology” – Crucial: how does an “ontology” relate to reality Pragmatism is no excuse for sloppiness Philosophical is no synonym for useless Subject EHCR standards that deal with semantics to a sound ontological analysis EHCR is an ideal domain, because it deals with real patients in real situations. When building “models”, they should be related to reality in the right way


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