Development of a multidimensional system for classification and management of health information: applying to clinical information.

Ana Cristina Rama, Odete Isabel, Cristina M Silva, Fernando Fernandez-Llimos, Isabel V Figueiredo, Maria Margarida Caramona


The large amount of information in the medical area creates management problems, being necessary systematic methods for filing and retrieval. With information on the context of clinical records, methods must integrate controlled biomedical terminologies and desirable characteristics oriented to the structure, content and clinical results. The objective is to test the applicability and capacity for retrieval of a multidimensional system developed for classification and management of health information.Three hundred questions were randomly selected, by computerized method, from the questions received in six years (Medicine Information Service, Pharmaceutical Department, Coimbra University Hospitals). They were characterized and applicability evaluated by classified amount and need to alter the system, which is composed of various independent dimensions, incorporating concepts sometimes hierarchical. Questions retrieval was tested searching information in a dimension or between dimensions.All questions were classified: 53% are clinical cases with illnesses incidence in the genitourinary system; metabolic, nutritional and endocrine disease; cancer; infections and nervous system. In 81%, the object is a drug, mostly anti-infectious and anti-neoplastic agents. The therapeutic and safety areas had been the most requested, regarding the subjects: use, adverse reactions, drug identification and pharmaceutical technology. As to applicability, it was necessary to add some concepts and modify same hierarchical groups, that didn't modify the basic structure, nor had collided with the desirable characteristics. The limitations were related with the incorporated external classification systems. The search in the subject dimension of the concept drug administration retrieved 19 questions. The search between two dimensions: antiinfectious (external) and teratogenicity (subject) retrieved three questions. In the two examples, it was possible to retrieve information from any one of the levels of the hierarchy, from the most general to the most specific and even from external dimensions.The use of the system in this sample showed its applicability in clinical information classification and filing, retrieval capacity and flexibility, supporting modifications without interfering with desirable characteristics. This tool allows retrieval of patient-oriented evidence that matters.

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