A SNOMED supported ontological vector model for subclinical disorder detection using EHR similarity

Wing Chi Chan, Y. Liu, C. R. Shyu, I. F.F. Benzie

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Electronic Health Records (EHR) form a valuable resource in the healthcare enterprise because clinical evidence can be provided to identify potential complications and support decisions on early intervention. Simple string matching, the common search algorithm, is not able to map a query to the similar health records in the database with respect to the medical concepts. A novel ontological vector model supported by the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms (SNOMED-CT) is proposed in this paper to project the disease terms of a health record to a feature space so that each health record can be characterized using a feature vector, giving a fingerprint of the record. The similarity between the query and database health records was measured by similarity measures of their feature vectors and string matching score respectively. Three types of similarity measures were considered in this study, namely, Euclidean distance (ED), direction cosine (DC) and modified direction cosine (mDC). Medical history and carotid ultrasonic imaging findings were collected from 47 subjects in Hong Kong. The dataset formed 1081 pairs of health records and ROC analysis was used to evaluate and compare the accuracy of the ontological vector model and simple string matching against the agreement of the presence or absence of carotid plaques identified by carotid ultrasound between two subjects. It was found that the score generated by simple string matching was a random rater but the ontological vector model was not. In other words, the degree of health record similarity based on the ontological vector model is associated with the agreement of atherosclerosis between two patients. The vector model using feature terms at the SNOMED-CT level 4 gave the best performance. The performance of mDC was very close to that of ED and DC but the properties of mDC make it more suitable for the retrieval of similar health records. It was also shown that the ontological vector model was enhanced by the support vector classifier approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1398-1409
Number of pages12
JournalEngineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Clinical decision support
  • Electronic Health Record
  • Similarity
  • Vector model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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