Indexed on: 19 Mar '13Published on: 19 Mar '13Published in: Journal of Biomedical Semantics
Clinical Intelligence, as a research and engineering discipline, is dedicated to the development of tools for data analysis for the purposes of clinical research, surveillance, and effective health care management. Self-service ad hoc querying of clinical data is one desirable type of functionality. Since most of the data are currently stored in relational or similar form, ad hoc querying is problematic as it requires specialised technical skills and the knowledge of particular data schemas.A possible solution is semantic querying where the user formulates queries in terms of domain ontologies that are much easier to navigate and comprehend than data schemas. In this article, we are exploring the possibility of using SADI Semantic Web services for semantic querying of clinical data. We have developed a prototype of a semantic querying infrastructure for the surveillance of, and research on, hospital-acquired infections.Our results suggest that SADI can support ad-hoc, self-service, semantic queries of relational data in a Clinical Intelligence context. The use of SADI compares favourably with approaches based on declarative semantic mappings from data schemas to ontologies, such as query rewriting and RDFizing by materialisation, because it can easily cope with situations when (i) some computation is required to turn relational data into RDF or OWL, e.g., to implement temporal reasoning, or (ii) integration with external data sources is necessary.