Proceedings : a conference of the American Medical Informatics Association / ... AMIA Annual Fall Symposium. AMIA Fall Symposium

Scalable and expressive medical terminologies.


The K-Rep system, based on description logic, is used to represent and reason with large and expressive controlled medical terminologies. Expressive concept descriptions incorporate semantically precise definitions composed using logical operators, together with important non-semantic information such as synonyms and codes. Examples are drawn from our experience with K-Rep in modeling the InterMed laboratory terminology and also developing a large clinical terminology now in production use at Kaiser-Permanente. System-level scalability of performance is achieved through an object-oriented database system which efficiently maps persistent memory to virtual memory. Equally important is conceptual scalability-the ability to support collaborative development, organization, and visualization of a substantial terminology as it evolves over time. K-Rep addresses this need by logically completing concept definitions and automatically classifying concepts in a taxonomy via subsumption inferences. The K-Rep system includes a general-purpose GUI environment for terminology development and browsing, a custom interface for formulary term maintenance, a C+2 application program interface, and a distributed client-server mode which provides lightweight clients with efficient run-time access to K-Rep by means of a scripting language.