Cross-terminology mapping challenges: A demonstration using medication terminological systems

Himali Saitwal, David Qing, Stephen Jones, Elmer V. Bernstam, Christopher Chute, Todd R. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Standardized terminological systems for biomedical information have provided considerable benefits to biomedical applications and research. However, practical use of this information often requires mapping across terminological systems-a complex and time-consuming process. This paper demonstrates the complexity and challenges of mapping across terminological systems in the context of medication information. It provides a review of medication terminological systems and their linkages, then describes a case study in which we mapped proprietary medication codes from an electronic health record to SNOMED CT and the UMLS Metathesaurus. The goal was to create a polyhierarchical classification system for querying an i2b2 clinical data warehouse. We found that three methods were required to accurately map the majority of actively prescribed medications. Only 62.5% of source medication codes could be mapped automatically. The remaining codes were mapped using a combination of semi-automated string comparison with expert selection, and a completely manual approach. Compound drugs were especially difficult to map: only 7.5% could be mapped using the automatic method. General challenges to mapping across terminological systems include (1) the availability of up-to-date information to assess the suitability of a given terminological system for a particular use case, and to assess the quality and completeness of cross-terminology links; (2) the difficulty of correctly using complex, rapidly evolving, modern terminologies; (3) the time and effort required to complete and evaluate the mapping; (4) the need to address differences in granularity between the source and target terminologies; and (5) the need to continuously update the mapping as terminological systems evolve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-625
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biomedical Informatics
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • Medication terminological systems
  • Review of medication terminological systems
  • Standards
  • Terminology mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics

Cite this