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Understanding biomedical terminologies: development of online documentation to facilitate user comprehension

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 — Poster Session III

10:00 a.m. – Noon

Natcher Conference Center




  • P McLaughlin


To produce documentation to facilitate the usability of the Unified Medical Language System® Metathesaurus®, a multi-purpose biomedical and health terminology resource, by software developers, informatics researchers, librarians, and other information professionals. User support needs were assessed through e-mail requests, a LISTSERV, training sessions, and discussions at conferences. Online documentation has been developed and integrated into existing educational materials. These new Web pages provide overviews, statistics, and sample data, which enable users to familiarize themselves with the content and structure of the Metathesaurus. Web pages were created for each of the 150+ terminologies in the Metathesaurus. This documentation provides users with information about each terminology, including its purpose, scope and content; its terms, codes and relationships; its overlap with other terminologies; and how it is represented in the Metathesaurus. The Metathesaurus is complex, and its effective use depends upon an understanding of its individual terminologies. The enhanced documentation serves as a useful resource for information professionals who want to use the Metathesaurus. Additionally, some of these terminologies have been designated as standards for meaningful use of electronic health records. As the focus on electronic health information exchange increases, an understanding of the standards that facilitate this exchange becomes ever more important.

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