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Ontologies for the representation of electronic medical records: The obstetric and neonatal ontology

ABSTRACT

Ontology is an interdisciplinary field that involves both the use of philosophical principles and the development of computational artifacts. As artifacts, ontologies can have diverse applications in knowledge management, information retrieval, and information systems, to mention a few. They have been largely applied to organize information in complex fields like Biomedicine. In this article, we present the OntoNeo Ontology, an initiative to build a formal ontology in the obstetrics and neonatal domain. OntoNeo is a resource that has been designed to serve as a comprehensive infrastructure providing scientific research and healthcare professionals with access to relevant information. The goal of OntoNeo is twofold: (a) to organize specialized medical knowledge, and (b) to provide a potential consensual representation of the medical information found in electronic health records and medical information systems. To describe our initiative, we first provide background information about distinct theories underlying ontology, top-level computational ontologies and their applications in Biomedicine. Then, we present the methodology employed in the development of OntoNeo and the results obtained to date. Finally, we discuss the applicability of OntoNeo by presenting a proof of concept that illustrates its potential usefulness in the realm of healthcare information systems.