Establishing and Harmonizing Ontologies in an Interdisciplinary Health Care and Clinical Research Environment

Sunday, February 1, 2009

B. Smith & M. Brochhausen, in: B. Blobel P. Pharow and M. Nerlich (eds.), eHealth: Combining Health Telematics, Telemedicine, Biomedical Engineering and Bioinformatics on the Edge (Global Expert Summit Textbook, Studies in Health, Technology and Informatics, 134), IOS Press, Amsterdam, 219-234.

Ontologies are being ever more commonly used in biomedical informatics and we provide a survey of some of these uses, and of the relations between ontologies and other terminology resources. In order for ontologies to become truly useful, two objectives must be met. First, ways must be found for the transparent evaluation of ontologies. Second, existing ontologies need to be harmonised. We argue that one key foundation for both ontology evaluation and harmonisation is the adoption of a realist paradigm in ontology development. For science-based ontologies of the sort which concern us in the eHealth arena, it is reality that provides the common benchmark against which ontologies can be evaluated and aligned within larger frameworks.