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Current Version - Under Revision

Extending searches and limiting duplication

The Terminology services guide addresses ways of:

  • Extending text searches to include similar words and phrases by making use of the Word equivalents table ;
  • Rationalizing text searches, which, in a simple search, return the same Concept more than once due to multiple matching Terms .

These techniques may be used to improve access to Concepts during data entry.

Searches with qualifier resolution

When typing text for a search, the user is unlikely to know if their intended entry can be represented by a single Concept or requires a postcoordinated expression involving additional Concepts or qualifiers. Where searches fail to find a precoordinated match, expansion of the search to support appropriate or commonly used qualifiers is likely to enhance usability.

Some terminology servers may provide a general facility of this type. Alternatively, a limited facility for recognizing commonly qualifying words may be used. For example, words such as "left," "right," "routine," 25876001 |emergency| and 24484000 |severe| are applicable as qualifiers when not included in a precoordinated Concept .

Real time searching

Conventional text searches require the user to decide how many words to enter and then explicitly request a search. When a search fails to find any matches or returns a very long list of matches, the user is obliged to repeat the process. The need to undertake this type of user interaction for every coded entry is likely to create a significant disincentive to effective data entry.

One possible solution to this is an interface that performs real - time checking of the number of matches as the user types. The interface may indicate this to the user, allowing them to decide when to stop typing and commence the search. A further enhancement is to automatically return the list of matches whenever the user stops typing, or when the number of matches reduces to an acceptable level.

Background encoding

Techniques that support real-time searches and qualifier resolution may also be extended to enable background encoding of complete sentences as they are entered. This method can be applied to text entered by typing or by voice recognition.

As text is entered, the search mechanism attempts to narrow the selection. If this process eventually finds a single good match, this is used to encode the text. The match should be displayed allowing the user to override it, but the default action is to accept the encoding. If at the end of a sentence there are multiple possible matches, then these are presented for user selection.

There are many possible variants on this technique. For example, as the possible matches are narrowed down, the system could offer an auto-completion option similar to that used in web browsers and word-processors.

CAUTION:

Anyone implementing this approach should take care to undertake appropriate quality assurance of the results. Mention of this approach to data entry does not imply that it is considered safe for a given use-case. Formal professional assessment of the risks and benefits of any type of automated encoding is essential.

Automatic and semi-automatic encoding

Techniques similar to those used for background encoding can be applied to previously entered text or to text entered by voice recognition or optical character recognition. Where such methods are used there is likely to be a need for manual intervention to resolve uncertain encoding. The requirement for manual intervention will depend on the sophistication of the matching techniques and the extent to which accuracy is safety-critical. If encoded data is to be used by clinical decision support protocols, which may influence the treatment of a patient, extreme care is needed when using automatic encoding and tools that allow manual review are essential. A less rigorous approach may be acceptable where the purpose of encoding is for aggregation and analysis of large volumes of population data.

CAUTION:

Anyone implementing this approach should take care to undertake appropriate quality assurance of the results. Mention of this approach to data entry does not imply that it is considered safe for a given use-case. Formal professional assessment of the risks and benefits of any type of automated encoding is essential.

Mnemonics and personal favorites

Groups of people, such as practitioners of a discipline or specialty, frequently use similar sets of Descriptions and Concepts. Lists of widely understood (or easily learned) abbreviations or mnemonics that allow rapid entry of these commonly used concepts are recommended as a way of accelerating repetitive recording.

A similar facility may also be useful for individual users or organizations that have sets of Descriptions and Concepts that they use frequently. An easy way to use options to store and recall personal favorites with user-defined abbreviated access term will enhance usability and significantly increase the speed of data entry.

User guidance may be necessary to minimize the risk of shortcuts such as these being overused. Unless the general search facilities are also easy to use, it is likely that users will favor the shortcuts even when it would be more appropriate to use a more accurate but less accessible Concept. An unchecked bias toward easy to record Concepts may lead to deterioration in data quality, statistical anomalies, and in the worst case, inappropriate treatment.


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