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Analyzing the heterogeneity of rule-based EHR phenotyping algorithms in CALIBER and the UK Biobank

By Spiros Denaxas, Helen Parkinson, Natalie Fitzpatrick, Cathie LM Sudlow, Harry Hemingway

Posted 27 Jun 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/685156

Electronic Health Records (EHR) are data generated during routine interactions across healthcare settings and contain rich, longitudinal information on diagnoses, symptoms, medications, investigations and tests. A primary use-case for EHR is the creation of phenotyping algorithms used to identify disease status, onset and progression or extraction of information on risk factors or biomarkers. Phenotyping however is challenging since EHR are collected for different purposes, have variable data quality and often require significant harmonization. While considerable effort goes into the phenotyping process, no consistent methodology for representing algorithms exists in the UK. Creating a national repository of curated algorithms can potentially enable algorithm dissemination and reuse by the wider community. A critical first step is the creation of a robust minimum information standard for phenotyping algorithm components (metadata, implementation logic, validation evidence) which involves identifying and reviewing the complexity and heterogeneity of current UK EHR algorithms. In this study, we analyzed all available EHR phenotyping algorithms (n=70) from two large-scale contemporary EHR resources in the UK (CALIBER and UK Biobank). We documented EHR sources, controlled clinical terminologies, evidence of algorithm validation, representation and implementation logic patterns. Understanding the heterogeneity of UK EHR algorithms and identifying common implementation patterns will facilitate the design of a minimum information standard for representing and curating algorithms nationally and internationally.

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