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Archive (2016–2006)

Enhanced Semantic Interoperability by Profiling Health Informatics Standards

Journal: Methods of Information in Medicine
Subtitle: A journal stressing, for more than 50 years, the methodology and scientific fundamentals of organizing, representing and analyzing data, information and knowledge in biomedicine and health care
ISSN: 0026-1270
Issue: 2009 (Vol. 48): Issue 2 2009
Pages: 170-177

Enhanced Semantic Interoperability by Profiling Health Informatics Standards

D. M. López (1), B. Blobel (1)

(1) eHealth Competence Center, University of Regensburg Medical Center, Regensburg, Germany


Standards, HL7, UML, semantic interoperability, integrated health care systems, profiles, reusability, Java components


Objectives: Several standards applied to the healthcare domain support semantic interoperability. These standards are far from being completely adopted in health information system development, however. The objective of this paper is to provide a method and suggest the necessary tooling for reusing standard health information models, by that way supporting the development of semantically interoperable systems and components. Methods: The approach is based on the definition of UML Profiles. UML profiling is a formal modeling mechanism to specialize reference meta-models in such a way that it is possible to adapt those meta-models to specific platforms or domains. A health information model can be considered as such a meta-model. Results: The first step of the introduced method identifies the standard health information models and tasks in the software development process in which healthcare information models can be reused. Then, the selected information model is formalized as a UML Profile. That Profile is finally applied to system models, annotating them with the semantics of the information model. The approach is supported on Eclipse-based UML modeling tools. The method is integrated into a comprehensive framework for health information systems development, and the feasibility of the approach is demonstrated in the analysis, design, and implementation of a public health surveillance system, reusing HL7 RIM and DIMs specifications. Conclusions: The paper describes a method and the necessary tooling for reusing standard healthcare information models. UML offers several advantages such as tooling support, graphical notation, exchangeability, extensibility, semi-automatic code generation, etc. The approach presented is also applicable for harmonizing different standard specifications.

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