How Big Data and Ontology Will Improve Healthcare

Healthcare — is there any domain that has a broader mix of terminologies that need to be comprehended, or a greater need for system integration?

Over the years, doctors have developed their own specialized languages and lexicons to help them store and communicate general medical knowledge and patient-related information efficiently. The promise of a global standard for electronic health care records is still years away. As we know, medical information systems need to be able to communicate complex and detailed medical data securely and efficiently. This is obviously a difficult task and requires a profound analysis of the structure and the concepts of medical terminologies. While this task sounds daunting, it can be achieved by constructing medical domain ontologies for representing medical terminology systems.

owl ontology web languageThe most significant benefit that ontologies may bring to healthcare systems is their ability to support the indispensable integration of knowledge and data.

Unfortunately, ontologies are not widely used in software engineering today. They are not well understood by the majority of developers. Undergraduate computer science programs don’t usually teach ontology. There is an urgent need to educate a new generation of ontology-savvy healthcare application developers.

We believe there is a growing need to familiarize ourselves with ontology and OWL. Here are the basics:

  • Ontology is about the exact description of things and their relationships.
  • For the web, ontology is about the exact description of web information and relationships between web information.
  • Ontologies are the next emerging generation of database concepts and technology.

OWL stands for Web Ontology Language

  • OWL was designed for processing information.
  • OWL was designed to provide a common way to process the content of web information (either by displaying it in diagrams or making it available in the web processes).
  • OWL was originally developed to be read by computer applications (instead of humans).
  • OWL contains RDF, but OWL is a stronger language with greater machine interpretability which uses RDF language elements.
  • OWL comes with a larger vocabulary than RDF. However, RDF is simpler, and is used as a basis for the bazillion sets of data being added to the web from countries and special interest groups all over the world.
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