The Ontology for the Telehealth Domain – TEON
Information about telehealth is distributed over many systems, generating content overlap and heterogeneity. As a way to standardize nomenclatures and organize content in telehealth systems and applications, the use of standardized vocabularies is recommended. However, most of them rely on informal text-free definitions that bring confusion. Together with this limitation, and due to recent Brazilian regulations concerning the delivery of telehealth services, a Telehealth Ontology (TEON) was developed. This study describes and presents TEON, elucidating its main use-case, its applicability and potential to improve information exchange, interoperability and decision support. TEON was developed based on the upper-domain ontology BioTopLite2 (BTL2) and Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI). The scope of the work includes a set of competency questions to guide the domain modelling. TEON was formalized with Description Logics (DL) and the Web Ontology Language v.2 (OWL2). The telehealth services are composed of three main components: actors, the service itself and temporal-location barriers. The main roles are identified as the requestor, the teleconsultant and the manager. With TEON, we are able to specify if services are synchronous or not. Services are described by means of participants in the process, i.e. by specifying the agents and patients according to their roles. The envisioned use of TEON is to enable the integration of heterogeneous databases from different telehealth systems, considering the formal perspective embedded in ontologies. Currently, TEON is being included in HealthNet (teleconsultation), INDU (tele-education), dataNUTES (management), and SMART (monitoring) through as an integration interface, in order to generate indicators and reports to support telehealth manager’s decision-making and to facilitate providing indicators to the system for monitoring and results evaluation of the National Brazilian Telehealth Program of the Ministry of Health.
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