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Sunday, May 15 • 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Poster Session 1: Poster Board Number 156

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Poster Board Number: 156
Title: Understanding Biomedical Terminologies: Development of Online Documentation to Facilitate User Comprehension
Objective: To produce web-based documentation to facilitate the usability of the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) metathesaurus, a multipurpose biomedical and health terminology resource, by software developers, informatics researchers, librarians, and other information professionals.
Methods: User support needs were assessed through email requests, an email discussion list, training sessions, and discussions at conferences. Online documentation has been developed and integrated into existing training and educational materials. These new web pages provide overviews, statistical information, and sample data, which enable users to familiarize themselves with the content and structure of the terminologies in the UMLS metathesaurus. As terminologies are added or updated with each UMLS release, the online documentation is updated to reflect these changes. Creation of the web pages took place in two phases. The first phase covered the terminologies that had been updated in the UMLS metathesaurus between 2008 and 2010. The second phase included the remaining terminologies, many of which had not been updated in five years or more. The documentation was developed using hypertext markup language (HTML) and cascading style sheets (CSS), and content was collected from the UMLS production system and from online literature searches.
Results: Web pages were created for each of the 150+ terminologies in the UMLS 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 UMLS metathesaurus. In the past year, these web pages have received approximately 60,000 page views.
Conclusions: The UMLS metathesaurus is a large, complex tool, and its effective use depends on an understanding of its individual terminologies. The enhanced documentation serves as a useful resource for librarians and other information professionals who are interested in using the UMLS metathesaurus. Additionally, some of these terminologies have been designated as standards for the meaningful use of electronic health records. As the focus on electronic health information exchange increases, an understanding of the terminology standards that facilitate this exchange becomes ever more important.
Author: Patrick McLaughlin, Technical Information Specialist, MEDLARS Management Section, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD

Sunday May 15, 2011 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Exhibit Hall A - Minneapolis Convention Center

Attendees (11)

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